Broncs run past St. Francis, 77-60
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Freshman Stella Johnson (Denville, NJ/Morris Catholic) posted a stat line of a career-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists as the Rider University women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire in a 77-60 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn Wednesday night at Alumni Gymnasium. With the win, the Broncs close out non-conference play at 8-3, while the Terriers fall to 2-9.
Julia Duggan (Marmora, NJ/Ocean City) added 15 points and five rebounds, while Kamila Hoskova (Brno, Czech Republic/Sportovni Gymnazium Ludvika Danka) chipped in with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Taylor Wentzel (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) also contributed six points and five assists. Rider finished with 13 steals and outscored St. Francis, 22-4, off turnovers.
“(Scoring off turnovers) has been huge, because we’ve been able to score pretty consistently over 70 for most of the year,” said Rider Head Coach Lynn Milligan. “I think you can directly correlate that to the consistency of the steals and the transition baskets we’re getting because of that.”
Maria Palarino led St. Francis with 20 points, while Jade Johnson scored all 14 of her points in the second half. Alex Delaney also scored eight points before fouling out.
Six different Broncs scored in the first quarter, with Rider outscoring St. Francis, 21-3, in the first 10 minutes. Rider had separate runs of 8-0 to begin the game and 13-0 to close out the quarter. Four different Broncs scored two points each to open the contest before a Rachel Iozzia three for the Terriers’ first points. A fifth Broncs starter got into the act as Perkins knocked down a high-arcing three-pointer from the left wing to spark the 13-0 run. Johnson scored six points in the second spurt and finished the quarter with eight.
St. Francis came alive in the second quarter, scoring 13 of the first 15 points to close the deficit to seven, 23-16. Palarino hit a pair of threes and a lay-up in the spurt. The Broncs scored the next five points on a pair of Wentzel free throws and Hoskova three to push the lead back to double-digits and later added a 7-0 run to make it a 16-point lead. Safie Tolusso (Vevey, Switzerland/Honore d’Estinne d’Orves) hit a three, Johnson converted a fast-break lay-up and Duggan knocked down a jumper to account for the seven points. Palarino scored her 11th and 12th points on a lay-up with 32 seconds left in the half to cut the Broncs’ lead to 39-25 at the break.
“We’re learning how to play with leads,” said Milligan. “It’s something that a lot of our older kids aren’t necessarily used to. When you’re up 21-3, I always tell the kids you have to kill a fly with an axe and we’re not doing that yet. We’ve got to see an opening and take it and sometimes we take that little bit of a breath.”
Johnson led the Broncs with 14 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists in the first half. Hoskova added seven points and three assists. Palarino paced the Terriers with 12 points, all in the second quarter, while Delaney added six points. Rider outscored St. Francis, 14-2, off turnovers and 18-10 in the paint. Both teams hit on 100 percent of their free throws, with Rider making 10 and the Terriers hitting three.
“(Stella) passes up a lot of stuff. She’s a very unselfish player. So as she gets more comfortable in the offense, recognizing where she’s going to get her shots, I think you’re going to see even more from her.”
Rider extended to a 19-point cushion with the first five points of the second half on two Duggan free throws and a Johnson trifecta. But the Terriers responded with 12 of the next 14, including eight points from Jade Johnson to cut the Broncs’ lead to 46-37 with less than three minutes to play in the period. Rider took a 52-41 lead into the final quarter.
The Broncs scored 13 of the first 17 points in the fourth quarter to build a 20-point lead, 65-45. Johnnah Johnson and Duggan scored four points apiece in the stretch. St. Francis cut the deficit to 13 but could draw no closer.
For the game, the Broncs outshot the Terriers, 46.2 percent (24-52) to 38.6 percent (22-57) from the floor and 36.4 percent (4-11) to 25.0 percent (6-24) from long range. The two teams combined for just one miss from the free-throw line in 36 attempts, with the Terriers hitting all 10 of their chances and the Broncs making 25-of-26, including their first 19 attempts. The effort was the Broncs’ most efficient since a 24-of-26 performance on Dec. 14, 2013, in a 66-63 overtime win against Binghamton. The 96.2 percent effort from the charity stripe is the fifth-highest percentage of the year in NCAA Division I among performances of 15 or more attempts. St. Francis took a 34-29 edge on the boards, while Rider enjoyed a 22-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Broncs return to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action Friday, Dec. 30, when they play host to defending regular-season champion Quinnipiac. Tipoff from Alumni Gymnasium is slated for 7 p.m.
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WBB: HL vs. Saint Peter's 2/18/16
WBB: Video Winning Shot vs. SPU 2/9/16
WBB: HL vs. Iona 2/7/16