Women’s College Basketball
University of Delaware 65, Rider University 54
LAWRENCEVILLE—Despite 21 points and nine rebounds from senior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)), the Rider University women’s basketball team lost a non-conference game on Sunday afternoon against the University of Delaware 65-54, in Alumni Gymnasium.
“We have some things to work on,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “There are some things that we can control (free throws and rebounding) that we need to get better at. Credit to Delaware, we got a little stagnant on offense.”
McKenzie moved up to 15th all-time on Rider’s scoring list and now has 1,095 career points.
McKenzie added three assists and a block, playing 39 of 40 minutes, missing a ‘double-double’ for the first time this season.
Leading 53-49, Delaware (4-1) out-scored Rider (1-4) 12-5 over the last 3:43 of the game, four points each by Kelsey Buchanan and Akeema Richards for the final score as the Blue Hens made seven of eight free throws down the stretch. Buchanan had 19 points and 15 rebounds with Richards adding 12 points for the Blue Hens.
Delaware was 21-33 from the free throw line with Rider going 14-26 from the charity stripe.
Trailing 41-36, the Blue Hens went on a 9-0 run, three points each by Buchanan and Courtni Green as Delaware retook the lead 45-41 with 9:44 left, the sixth and final lead change of the game. Green finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.
Rider cut the Delaware lead to 46-45 with 8:09 left on a jumper by McKenzie before the Blue Hens responded with a 7-0 run, making the score 53-45 with 4:27 remaining in the game.
Trailing 33-28, 54 seconds into the second half, Rider went on a 13-3 run, with five Broncs hitting the scoring column, led by four points from graduate student Shereen Lightbourne (Elmsford, N.Y./Alexander Hamilton) as Rider went back into the lead (41-36) with 12:35 left in the contest.
“Shereen is going to be a spark for us off the bench,” Milligan said. “She was able to come in and change the momentum of the game.”
Lightbourne finished with those four points and added two rebounds and two steals in seven minutes off the bench.
Trailing 8-5, with 14:10 left in the opening half, Rider out-scored the Blue Hens 8-1, three points each by McKenzie and junior Kornelija Valiuskyte (Siauliai, Lithuania). Valiuskyte finished with three points, two rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes.
Trailing 17-16, Delaware went into the lead 25-19 on the strength of a 9-2 run, as the Blue Hens opened up a six point lead 2:38 before intermission and Delaware led 31-26 at the half.
Also for Delaware, Joy Caracciolo had 14 points and 19 rebounds (six offensive) in 26 minutes off the bench.
Rider was out-rebounded 63-38, 23-15 on the offensive glass. “We got out-rebounded and didn’t make free throws,” Milligan said. “That’s not a good combination. I thought we got ourselves in a good position in the second half, getting to the line and then we missed four or five in a row. It’s something we need to work at.”
Freshman Julia Duggan (Marmora/Ocean City) had eight rebounds (five offensive) for Rider to go along with four points, playing 27 minutes off the bench.
For the second game in a row, Rider held its turnovers under double-digits, committing only eight in the game and causing 18 by Delaware. “We did a good job taking care of the basketball and getting the shots we wanted,” Milligan added. “We needed to step up and make a few more of those shots.”
Each team struggled from the field with the Blue Hens shooting 35 percent (21-60) to 28 percent (18-65) for Rider.
Former East Coast Conference rivals, Rider and Delaware have now met 20 times with the Blue Hens winning 15. The teams last met on February 9, 1991 in Newark, Delaware with Rider prevailing 69-64.
Last season, Delaware went 32-4, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 before losing to #8 Kentucky.
Rider travels to the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Maryland November 29-30. The Broncs play Maryland Baltimore County on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and face host Navy Saturday at 6 p.m.
“There are a couple of things that we need to correct to get ourselves going,” Milligan said about the 1-4 start to the season. “We are being challenged by some great teams (Seton Hall, Princeton, and Delaware today) and we were right there in all three contests. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Ultimately, we are preparing ourselves for the conference schedule and we are taking positive steps each time on the court.”