Women’s College Basketball
Seton Hall University 86, Rider University 75
SOUTH ORANGE—Despite the 28th career ‘double-double from senior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)), the Rider University women’s basketball team lost 86-75 at Seton Hall University Sunday afternoon in Walsh Gym.
“This is a game we are going to build on,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “There are things we can control to make ourselves a little bit better, including free throw shooting and rebounding. Coming off some of the things we did Friday night at Lafayette, I’m pretty pleased with about 37 of the 40 minutes we played today. Seton Hall is a team that is going to win some ball games and make some noise and we needed to put a full 40 minutes together. We’ll grow from this and the experiences from today’s game will take us far.”
McKenzie, a Preseason Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team honoree, had 18 points and 13 rebounds for her second ‘double-double’ to start the season.
Tied 68-68 after a three-pointer by sophomore Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) with 5:06 left in the game, Seton Hall went on a 9-0 run, six points by Tabatha Richardson-Smith on back to back three-pointers. Richardson-Smith finished with a career-high 30 points, while adding nine rebounds and two steals in 35 minutes.
“Richardson-Smith is a big, strong, athletic guard,” Milligan said. “She is a great player and obviously tough to guard.”
Johnson had 11 points (including three 3-pointers) in 20 minutes off the bench for the Broncs.
“We gave up some open three pointers at the end,” Milligan said. “That was the game in the blink of an eye. It was a good ball game and in the last three minutes, their shooters got some open looks. That broke it open.”
The Pirates made five free throws in the final minute for the final score.
Trailing 66-61, Rider (0-2) tied the game with a 7-2 run, four points by junior Marritta Gillcrease (Pittsburgh, Pa./Perry Traditional Academy). Gillcrease had seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of play.
Seton Hall led 57-47 with 16:17 left in the game when Rider went on a 10-0 run, five points each by McKenzie and Johnson to tie the game with 12:15 left. After being limited to three points and eight minutes in the opening half due to foul trouble, McKenzie played all 20 minutes, scoring 15 points in the final period.
“That was an unusual situation for us,” Milligan said about McKenzie. “She is never usually in foul trouble. I thought she responded well in the second half and I expected her to come out strong.”
Leading 46-43, Seton Hall scored 11 of the next 15 points, opening up a 57-47 lead with 16:17 left in the game, as Rider missed four free throws in a row during that stretch.
In the first half, trailing 2-0, Rider went on a 5-0 run, three points by McKenzie as the Broncs took a 5-2 lead 1:12 into the game.
Seton Hall (2-0) responded with a 10-0 run, four points by Ka-Deidre Simmons as the Hall went back into the lead 12-5 with 15:00 left in the opening half. Simmons finished with 18 points, including a 16 for 17 effort from the free throw line. Simmons also pulled down 10 rebounds.
“Except for putting her on the free throw line, we did a decent job on Simmons,” Milligan said about holding the Pirate guard to one for nine shooting. “Overall, we just needed to box out a little better and we’ll learn from today’s game.”
Seton Hall was 26-32 from the free throw line with Rider 13-21 (5-12 in the second half) and each team made 28 field goals, with Rider out-shooting the Hall 41 percent (28-69) to 39 percent (28-71).
“We’ve got to do a better job at the free throw line,” Milligan said. “That is definitely something we can control. When you get to the basket so hard, you have to reward yourself by knocking down the free throws.”
Rider is shooting 59 percent (24-41) from the free throw line so far this season after shooting free throws at a 72 percent clip last season.
Trailing 17-9, Rider scored 11 of the next 13 points, six by freshman Julia Duggan (Marmora/Ocean City)to take a 20-19 lead with 9:32 left in the opening period. Duggan finished with nine points and pulled down 10 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass, while blocking two shots.
“That the kind of game I expect from Julia,” Milligan said. “She is mentally tough, strong and skilled at the game of basketball. I expect her to be that kind of ‘double-double’ player. And for most of the rebounds to be on the offensive glass that means she has a good nose for the ball. She is going to be a good player for us. I was proud of her effort.”
After junior Emily Fazzini (Wayne, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) hit a three-pointer to cut the Pirate lead to 25-23, Seton Hall went on an 8-0 run, converting two Bronc turnovers and the Pirates led 33-23 with 5:09 left before halftime. Fazzini finished with 13 points in 29 minutes of play.
Rider would not go away as the Broncs responded with an 11-2 run, five points by Fazzini to cut the Seton Hall lead to one, 35-34 with 2:23 before the half.
Seton Hall scored seven of the final nine points of the half, taking a 44-37 lead into the locker room.
Rider was out-rebounded 51-37, including 27-18 on the offensive glass.
“Seton Hall is a terrific rebounding team,” Milligan said. “We had some inside positions but we didn’t quite take advantage of that. We had to box out a little deeper and I think we let them push us more under the basket.”
Also for the Broncs, junior Lashay Banks (Philadelphia, Pa./Prep Charter) had 12 points and six rebounds in 35 minutes of play.
This was the eighth all-time meeting between the teams with Seton Hall winning all eight.
The Pirates were coached by a familiar face as Anthony Bozzella is now on the sidelines for Seton Hall. Bozzella spent 11 seasons at MAAC-rival Iona College before joining his alma mater this season.
Rider returns to Alumni Gymnasium for the home opener on Thursday, November 14 at 7 p.m., against LIU-Brooklyn.