Rider picks up first victory of 2023, defeats Merrimack

By Logan VanDine and Kadie Digiuseppe

AFTER a tough opening-night loss to Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 7, Rider women’s basketball got back on track with a 61-47 victory over Merrimack on Nov. 12.

The game did not start out ideally for the Broncs as the Warriors started the scoring and went on a 6-0 run, putting Rider in an immediate hole.

After the Warriors had a first quarter lead of 16-11, the Broncs put their foot on the gas pedal and were in complete control the rest of the way, outscoring Merrimack 18-6 in the second quarter to take a 29-22 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Broncs once again outscored Merrimack 16-12 followed by a 16-13 fourth quarter affair to give Rider a 61-47 victory getting them back to .500 on the season at 1-1.

“We were really resilient today. I thought that we started to buy in on the defensive end, I thought we challenged our kids a lot over these last couple of days … [We] definitely saw the improvements we worked on tonight, there’s no question about it,” said Head Coach Lynn Milligan.

The Broncs’ leading scorers were senior guard Makayla Firebaugh with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, followed by the newcomer graduate student guard Taylor Langan in her first home game as a Bronc, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11. Langan previously played for Colgate University and Millersville University.

“I just wasn’t performing the way I wanted to perform in the past two games. Today I was just like, ‘Calm down, Makayla, be yourself, you know how to play, you know how to execute,’ and that was kind of running through my mind the entire game,” Firebaugh said.

Coach Milligan added how important it was for Firebaugh to get back in her groove: “For her to get going early today was a good thing, hitting the three, going off the bounce, being able to score in different ways is really important for us.”

Langan also talked about her overall performance in her first home game as a Bronc and how it was more of a team effort.

“I was just looking to get our other teammates open, it just happened that when you focus more on moving the ball, you end up giving your shot more open so it was good that we had a team effort,” said Langan. 

Coach Milligan commented on Langan’s contributions during her first game: “Taylor was terrific, she’s been around. She understands time and pace. She was able to slow us down a couple times.”

The Broncs will play in Newark, N. J., on Nov. 15 to face the NJIT Highlanders at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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