Women’s College Basketball
Canisius College 76, Rider University 72
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University women’s basketball team saw its two-game winning streak snapped on Sunday afternoon with Canisius College pulling out a 76-72 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win in Alumni Gymnasium.
“We got out worked,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “Our defensive effort today was very disappointing. We gave up a lot of easy buckets and didn’t finish plays and when that happens, you are going to lose.”
Rider (7-8, 3-3 MAAC) was led by senior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) who had her 34th career ‘double-double’ (eighth of the season), compiling 24 points and 16 rebounds and she tied a career-high with six steals, while playing all 40 minutes.
This was McKenzie’s 12th career game with 20 points or more.
“We got a little ahead of ourselves,” McKenzie said about the game. “We have to fight for every MAAC game, like we did in the wins over Monmouth and Saint Peter’s. We have to show up and play every game. Today was annoying, irritating and frustrating. The only way to fix it is to get into practice on Monday and go hard.”
Trailing 43-39, Canisius (6-10, 2-5 MAAC) went on a 13-2 run, four points by Tamara Miskovic, taking a 52-45 lead with 10:01 left in the second half. That was the ninth and final lead change of the game.
Trailing 65-55, Rider used a 6-0 run, two points each by McKenzie, freshman Julia Duggan (Marmora/Ocean City) and graduate-student Shereen Lightbourne (Elmsford,, N.Y./Alexander Hamilton) to cut the Golden Griffin lead to four with 3:31 left.
Duggan finished with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in 19 minutes off the bench with Lightbourne scoring five points in 12 minutes of play.
With Canisius leading 68-61, sophomore Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) hit two three-pointers as the Broncs scored six of the next eight points, cutting the deficit to three (70-67) with 1:31 remaining.
Johnson had 10 points, five assists and three rebounds before fouling out with 11 seconds left in the game.
After a Canisius layup, McKenzie had a three-point play, cutting the Canisius lead to two (72-70) with 31 seconds left.
Canisius made four free throws in the final 24 seconds to seal the win.
Trailing 33-31, Canisius opened the second half on a 7-0 run, holding the Broncs scoreless for almost three minutes as the Golden Griffins went into the lead 37-33 with 17:14 remaining.
“We took some quick shots and we also fouled them,” Milligan said about the decisive run. “We started the second half with too many fouls."
Both teams traded baskets to open the game before the Golden Griffins used a 7-0 run to turn an 11-10 deficit into a 17-11 lead with 13:13 left in the opening half.
Trailing 24-16, Rider rallied with a 7-0 run, six points by McKenzie, cutting the Canisius lead to one with 5:37 remaining before intermission.
Trailing 28-25, Rider took a 33-30 lead into intermission, scoring eight of the last 10 points of the half, five points by McKenzie and three from Johnson.
Canisius was led by 14 points from red-shirt junior Courtney VandeBovenKamp and 12 points each by senior Jamie Ruttle and junior Kayla Hoohuli.
Also for the Broncs, red-shirt junior Lashay Banks (Philadelphia, Pa./Prep Charter) had 14 points, 10 in the opening half with red-shirt sophomore Manon Pellet (Marseille, France) compiling a career-high eight assists.
Rider had 19 assists on 27 made field goals with Canisius compiling 16 assists on 25 field goals.
This was sixth win in a row for Canisius over Rider and the Golden Griffins lead the all-time series 29-7.
Canisius out-shot Rider 47 percent (25-53) to 45 percent (27-60). The Broncs converted eight three-pointers to five for Canisius but the game was decided at the free throw line with the Golden Griffins converting 21 of 25 attempts to only 10 of 16 free throws for the Broncs.
Canisius entered play having lost six of its last seven games with the only win over Saint Peter’s 48-47 on January 5, a team Rider defeated by 28 points on January 9.
“I don’t think we were over confident,” Milligan said. “We just didn’t focus on the defensive end of the floor. We still fight the battle of taking a couple of steps forward and then a step back.”
The 76 points is the second highest point total allowed by Rider this season.
“We just fell apart on defense,” said McKenzie. “We stopped following the scout and stop believing. That is a lesson to be learned. We tried to force some things on offense and tried to make the next play because we weren’t getting stops.”
“We haven’t had a game that I’ve been this disappointed in the defensive effort in I don’t know when,” Milligan added.
In Rider’s last game against Saint Peter’s, the Bronc defense allowed only 40 points, tying the lowest opponent point total in Milligan’s seven seasons (194 games) at Rider.
This was Rider’s second of three home games in a row. Rider hosts Manhattan on Thursday at 5 p.m., in the opening game of a doubleheader with the Rider men.