Greg Dell'Omo

Iona 76 Rider 63

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
         
Release: March 03, 2013
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Rider's 2013 senior class
Courtesy: Peter G. Borg (Rider University)

Women's College Basketball
Iona College 76, Rider University 63
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game

LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University women's basketball team lost to Iona College 76-63 Sunday afternoon in the regular season finale at Alumni Gymnasium. The Broncs honored their four graduating seniors prior to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.

Rider's seniors scored 11 of the team's first 14 points, eight points by Caitlin Bopp (Baltimore, Md./Inst. of Notre Dame) and three by Sironda Chambers (Wilmington, Del.).   

"When your 6-2 center is filling the stat sheet, that's what you need," head coach Lynn Milligan said about Bopp.  "Caitlin is playing good basketball right now.  She is on a mission and is bringing it every day."

Bopp compiled her 25th career 'double-double' and seventh of the season, scoring 20 points with 16 rebounds, nine on the offensive glass.  Bopp added four blocks and two steals in 29 minutes of action.  Chambers finished with 11 points, three assists, two steals and two rebounds in 34 minutes.

"I just tried to go out with a bang," said Bopp.  "It was my last game in Alumni Gym so that's what I tried to do.  If I'm not doing well in one area of my game, I just try to pick it up in another area, whether it is a rebound or getting on the floor and getting a loose ball."

Bopp became only the second player in Rider history with over 900 points and over 900 rebounds, entering the MAAC tournament with 935 points and 913 boards in 106 career games.  Rider Athletics Hall of Famer Jessica Beck had 1,015 points and 1,023 rebounds from 1993-96.

Leading 14-12, Iona (18-11, 13-5 MAAC) used a 12-2 run, six points by senior Diana Hubbard, to take a 26-14 lead with 8:51 left in the first half.  

"The opening half, we dug ourselves a hole and we gave them some open looks," said Milligan.  "You take that stretch away when they were making some threes and it is a pretty even game.  I was pleased with our defensive effort and rebounding."

Each team made 25 field goals.  Iona made seven more free throws and out-shot Rider from the three-point line nine to three.

"I'm aggravated that we slipped a little in the first half," Bopp said.  "We never really caught up to them.  We played well but it wasn't truly a complete game.  We feel we let one slip away today."

Trailing 26-14, Rider (15-14, 10-8 MAAC) used an 8-3 run over two minutes, four points by Bopp, to get within seven 29-22 with 6:01 left in the first half.

Iona ended the half scoring 10 of the next 16 points, seven points by sophomore Damika Martinez to take a 39-28 lead at the intermission.

Martinez hit a three-pointer with 17:03 left in the game to record her 1,000th career point, the fastest ever at Iona. The MAAC's leading scorer is the 23rd player in Gael history to reach the mark and she finished with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists.

"Martinez is a player of the year candidate for a reason," Milligan said.  "She makes shots that nobody else can make.  She had to work hard for her points but she is a fantastic player."

Trailing 48-37, Rider used a 5-0 run, three points by sophomore Emily Fazzini (Wayne, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) to cut the lead to six 48-42 with 14:49 left. That was as close as the Broncs would get the rest of the way.  Fazzini finished with nine points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in 27 minutes.

Also for the Broncs, junior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) recorded her 25th career 'double-double' and 13th of the season, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds, five on the offensive glass.

Ride had 14 assists on 25 made field goals.  The Broncs out-rebounded the Gaels 46-37, 21-10 on the offensive glass.

Every senior for the Broncs scored on the afternoon.

Senior Carleigh Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Nazareth Academy) moved into second place on the Broncs' career games played list with 118. She finished with four points, two rebounds and two assists in 12 minutes.

Senior Dior Brown (Upper Darby, Pa./Upper Darby) finished with two points, one rebound and a block in 17 minutes.

"This senior class wanted to be 'that' team, the team that turned things around," Milligan said about the most Bronc wins since the 1994-95 season.  They will forever be known for their accomplishments and I couldn't be more proud of the seniors."

Rider lost to Iona 88-58, February 9 in New Rochelle, New York on ESPN3.  The Gaels have won seven straight games and head into the MAAC tournament as the #2 seed.  Iona has won 23 of the 36 games in the all-time series and have defeated the Broncs three straight times.

"Iona took it to us the first time around," Milligan said.  "You saw a big difference today."

The Broncs open MAAC tournament play Friday March 8 at 3:30 pm at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The #4 seeded Broncs will take on the #5 seeded Purple Eagles of Niagara.  The Purple Eagles swept the Broncs this season by scores of 62-58 and 64-59.

"We missed an opportunity to grab the number three seed," Milligan added.  "But really, that would have been a bonus.  The big thing today was to play well and end the regular season on a good note for the seniors.  But I can wait for the tournament.  This tournament is wide open.  If the Rider team that played the second half today gets on that bus Thursday, I'll take my chances against anyone."

"We are going up there to win," Bopp added.  "This is the highest place we've ever been seeded.  We are going into the tournament with every intention to make the championship game."

10-time defending regular season champion Marist (18-0) is the top seed in the tournament and will play the #8 Loyola / #9 Manhattan winner on March 8 at 1:30pm in the quarterfinals.  Second seed Iona will face the winner of #7 Canisius / #10 Saint Peter's on Friday at 9:30am.  #4 Rider plays #5 Niagara at 3:30pm on Friday and #3 Fairfield faces #6 Siena at 11:30am on Friday.

The semifinals are Saturday, March 9 at 9:30am and 11:30am on ESPN 3 with the championship game on Monday, March 11 at noon on ESPNU.

The official pairings and the All-MAAC First, Second and Third teams will be announced on Monday afternoon by the conference office.

-RU-

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