Women’s College Basketball
Iona College 73, Rider University 66
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Game
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—Senior MyNeshia McKenzie (Springfield, Pa./Springfield (Delco)) had 21 points and Junior Lashay Banks (Philadelphia, Pa./Prep Charter) added 16 points but the Broncs could not overcome the hot shooting of Damika Martinez who scored an Iona and conference record 46 points as the Gaels defeated Rider University 73-66 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game on Sunday afternoon.
Martinez shot 16-20 from the field and was six for six from three-point range, tying the MAAC single game scoring record held by Heather Fiore (Canisius) who scored 46 points on January 19, 1997 against Saint Peter’s.
“She made her shots,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “She is the defending conference player of the year for a reason.”
Leading 30-29, Iona (22-3, 15-1 MAAC) scored the final basket of the opening half on a Martinez three-pointer and that keyed a 14-0 run that put the Gaels ahead 44-29 with 15:49 left in the game as Rider went almost seven minutes without a field goal.
“We didn’t have our flow on offense at all,” Milligan said. “We tried to make some plays that weren’t there. We needed to move the ball better and set better screens. When we did that, we were successful but we didn’t do it enough.”
Trailing 54-40, Rider (12-13, 8-8 MAAC) cut the Gael lead to four with McKenzie scoring 10 points as the Broncs got to within 58-54 with 5:33 left in the game.
McKenzie is now third on Rider’s all-time scoring list with 1,481 career points.
The Gaels pulled away with a 13-4 run, 11 by Martinez as Iona raced to a 71-58 lead with 2:58 remaining.
“We had Iona right where we wanted them but we ran into a player that was just hot,” Milligan added.
The opening half was a back and forth battle that saw the teams tied 14-14 with 12:07 left in the opening half with sophomore Mikal Johnson (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) hitting two from three-point range.
Johnson finished with nine points, making three of Rider’s six three-pointers in the game and she added two assists, two blocks and a steal before fouling out after logging 33 minutes of playing time.
Trailing 25-22, Iona went on a 6-0 run, all six points by Martinez as the Gaels took a 28-25 lead with 4:16 left in the first half.
After a jumper by junior Kornelija Valiuskyte (Siauliai, Lithuania) cut the Gael lead to one, Martinez scored three of Iona’s final five points of the half and the Gaels went into intermission leading 33-29.
Valiuskyte finished with five points, four rebounds and a career-high seven assists, playing 39 minutes.
Iona out-shot Rider 51 percent (28-55) to 46 percent (28-61).
11 of Rider’s 25 games this season have been decided by seven or less points, including both games against first place Iona.
This was the 38th meeting all-time between the two teams with Iona winning for the 24th time. The first place Gaels salvaged a season series split after Rider snapped the Iona 18-game winning streak, 92-90 in overtime on February 6 in Lawrenceville.
Rider hosts Monmouth University in a MAAC and Hour Glass Rivalry game on Wednesday at 7:00pm. The Hawks lost at Quinnipiac 83-50 on Sunday.