Rider falls short of Fairfield upset in second round

By Logan K. VanDine

Entering the second round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament, Rider women’s basketball knew its next opponent would be a challenge. 

The Broncs were taking on Fairfield, a team that had beaten them twice by more than 20 points in the regular season and entered the tournament on a 26-game winning streak. Despite the Broncs mounting a comeback in the second half, it was not enough, as their season ended in a crushing 57-51 loss on March 13.

“We came here today with every intention to win this game,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan.  “There wasn’t anybody who thought that we could win this game, but we’re disappointed because we thought we had the right game plan and we thought that we were doing the right things.”

The game started well for Rider in the first quarter, scoring 10 points leading to a 10-7 lead. In the second quarter, however, the Broncs weren’t able to do much on offense as they were outscored 21-9 and trailed 28-19 at the half.

The third quarter saw better things offensively for the Broncs as they were able to cut the deficit to four and eventually tie the game at 40 in the fourth quarter. 

In the end, turnovers and foul troubles were too much for Rider to pull off a monumental upset in the MAAC Tournament as its season came to an end. 

“We didn’t get a lot of the results that we wanted during the regular season but we know that when we come here, our objective and our goal is the same as everybody’s,” said Milligan.  “Nothing changed. It was a mentality with this group: they have the will to win, they have the desire to win and work and they have heart and soul.” 

The leading scorers for the Broncs were graduate student guards Taylor Langan, who had 12 points, and Jessika Schiffer, who had 11. Other notable scorers were senior guard Makayla Firebaugh and junior guard Mariona Cos-Morales, who both scored 7 points each. An emotional Langan talked about her first and only year with Rider and the overall impact it had on her.

“I met some of my best friends on this team, I’ve met some life-long mentors on this program and with this university and I’m forever grateful for my experience here and to have people that believe in me,” she said. “ After Fairfield thought they were going to blow us out, we didn’t let that happen and I’m glad that I’m leaving here with the respect that Rider deserves.”

This was also Schiffer’s last game after three years at Rider. “Every single year was different and has been a really good experience. This last year was a lot of fun to start off with a new group. It was pretty exciting and even though the season didn’t go as we thought it would, it was still a great experience,” said Schiffer. “We’ve all learned so much, we’ve all grown together and I’m excited to see what this new group is going to do next year.”

With Rider’s season now in the books with an overall record of 10-21, Milligan wanted to give a shoutout to her departing players who she could not think more highly of.

“Everybody that wears a Rider Lady Bronc uniform is a Lady Bronc for life and it means something,” said Milligan. “I am just grateful that I get to coach wonderful young women every year that put that uniform on and I love every single one of them.” 

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