The Campaign

Rider Advances to MAAC Championship with Win Over Fairfield

Courtesy: Rider Sports Information
         
Release: March 05, 2017
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Courtesy: Stockton Photo
ALBANY, NY – The Rider University women’s basketball team earned its first-ever berth in the MAAC Tournament Championship game with a 49-36 victory versus Fairfield in the MAAC Semifinals on Sunday afternoon at the Times Union Center. The Broncs (24-7) avenged a pair of setbacks to the Stags (17-14) during the regular season and won their 13th contest outside of Lawrenceville this season.

“I’m a little bit at a loss for words,” Rider Head Coach Lynn Milligan said. “I’m excited we gave ourselves the opportunity to be playing tomorrow and excited about the grit and never say attitude of this team. We have 15 young ladies that believe in each other so much. I hope it’s as obvious to the people watching the game as it is to us because it’s an absolute privilege to coach these kids every day knowing the effort that we are going to get.”

Rider used an 18-2 run in the fourth quarter to net the come-from-behind win. Over the final 10 minutes, the Broncs held Fairfield to 23 percent (4-17) shooting, while knocking down over 57 percent (4-7) of their shots. Rider also did a good job getting to the line in the fourth, attempting 22 free throws.

Senior center Julia Duggan (Marmora, NJ/Ocean City) paced the offensive attack for Rider with her fifth consecutive double-double courtesy of a 15-point, 20-rebound performance. The 20 rebounds are the second-most in a single game in MAAC Tournament history. Duggan knocked down six shots from the field and three from the foul line to record her MAAC-leading 12th double-double of the year. Junior Kamila Hoskova (Brno, Czech Republic/Sportovni Gymnazium Ludvika Danka) and sophomore Lexi Posset (Pittsburgh, PA/Beaver Area) were the other Broncs in double figures. Both Hoskova and Posset and poured in 11 points.  

Casey Smith was the lone Stag in double figures with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Off the bench, Kristine Miller added eight points thanks to hitting all four of her shots from the field, while Samantha Cooper grabbed a team-high seven boards. Fairfield struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just one of 14.

Rider started the game on an 8-0 run over the first seven minutes of play. During the spurt, the Broncs knocked 4-of-10 from the field and held Fairfield scoreless on their first 10 possessions of the game. The stout Rider defense forced seven turnovers early on and held the Stags without a field goal for the first seven minutes.

In the early run, Duggan scored four points and grabbed four boards. With an offensive rebound three minutes into the game, she moved into sole possession of fifth-place on the program’s all-time rebounds list.

After Fairfield got on the board with a lay-up from Smith, Rider would cap the scoring in the frame with a basket by Duggan to take a 10-2 edge into the second. The Broncs held the Stags to 20 percent (1-5) shooting in the first 10 minutes and forced 10 turnovers. It marked the second game in a row where Rider surrendered just two points in a quarter.

Fairfield scored on its first two possessions of the second sandwiched around a Bronc three-pointer from Posset to pull within six at 13-7. Midway through the stanza, Fairfield would get bucket in the paint from Kristine Miller to cut the deficit to four at 13-9.

After Posset’s triple, Rider missed it next four shots and went over five minutes without a point as the Stags reeled off a 9-0 run. Duggan would end the run as she drew contact in the post and knocked down two free throws to give the Broncs a 15-11 advantage with three minutes and 30 seconds left in the half. On the final possession of the second quarter, a Fairfield three clanked off the back of the rim to give Rider a 17-13 lead at the break.

The Stags got back into the game as Rider shot just eight percent (1-12) in the second and committed three turnovers.

Fairfield scored the first three points off the third quarter capped by a free throw from Smith to pull within one at 17-16. The run would stretch to five as Smith would hit two free throws to give the Stags their first lead of the day at 18-17. Rider got its first points of the half thanks to a lay-up from Hosvkoa just under four minutes in.

Later in the third, Duggan would score on back-to-back possession and following another basket in the paint from Bronc senior Yeliz Dogan (Izmir, Turkey/Western Nebraska CC/Antalya Koleji) Rider stretched its lead back to five at 25-20. The Stags would answer with an 8-0 run to close out the third and take a 28-25 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Stags shot 50 percent (6-12) from the field in the third to storm back and take their first lead of the game. Fairfield held Rider without a made field goal for the final 2:17 of the frame.

Rider started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to take back the lead at 33-28. During the run, Hoskova had four points, senior guard Taylor Wentzel (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) knocked down a pair of free throws and Duggan scored in the paint. Fairfield missed its first five shots of the final quarter and the Broncs held the Stags without a field goal for the first four minutes of the stanza.

The Broncs scored 14 of the first 16 points in the quarter as a trey from the wing by Wentzel gave Rider a 39-30 lead with 2:43 left in regulation. A free throw from Posset would give Rider a double-digit lead at 40-30 and on the ensuing possession she knocked down a trey from the corner to give Rider its largest lead of the game at 43-30.

For the game, Rider just 29 percent (14-47) and Fairfield hit 33 percent (16-48) of its shots. The Broncs forced 17 Stag turnovers and both teams had 22 points in the paint.

Rider returns to action on Monday, March 6, with a meeting against No. 1 seed Quinnipiac in the MAAC Championship game at 5:00 pm. The game will be aired live on ESPNU and the winner will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
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The Campaign