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Rider takes care of Siena early in 69-38 blowout

Rider takes care of Siena early in 69-38 blowout

Overwhelming team defense, overall play of Stella Johnson too much for Saints
Rider takes care of Siena early in 69-38 blowout
Siena women's basketball coach Ali Jaques' team lost to Rider 69-38 on Thursday.
Photographer: Staff photo

LOUDONVILLE -- It was close all the way the first time.

It wasn't close shortly after the second quarter started this time.

Less than a month after the Rider women's basketball team held off Siena by four points, the Broncs blew away the Saints early and often at the Alumni Recreation Center on Thursday night, polishing off a 69-38 victory behind a complete game from national scoring leader Stella Johnson.

Siena (6-7 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, 8-14 overall) came in riding a five-game winning streak to get into the middle of the MAAC standings, while Rider 11-2, 18-4) had lost two straight to fall out of first.

On Thursday, Rider kept the Saints from finding easy shots in the first half while taking a 37-14 lead, and the Saints avoided their lowest offensive output of the season when Amari Anthony scored on a drive with three minutes left in the game to cut the Broncs lead to 62-36.

Johnson, who came in averaging 25.0 points per game, scored 22 points in a variety of ways, including two 3-pointers, short pull-ups and drives to the basket. But the rest of her game -- six steals, five steals -- brought a comparison that Rider head coach Lynn Milligan has been making for some time now.

"She plays both ends of the floor; I always call her Kawhi Leonard," Milligan said. "That's who she plays like. We do feed off that, and she was locked in and ready to play tonight.

"I tell people this all the time, she's the leading scorer in the nation, but if you watch her play, she's an efficient player. She's not a volume scorer. She doesn't need 25 shots to get 25 points."

One adjustment from the first game that Rider made was switching more frequently on defense, which the young Siena team wasn't able to solve.

Siena committed 28 turnovers and finished with just two assisted baskets, both by senior Sabrina Piper, who also led the Saints in scoring with 13 points.

"We turned the ball over tonight because we didn't execute, we didn't set screens, we weren't mature enough to handle their pressure," Siena head coach Ali Jaques said. "We didn't get to the free throw line. Rebounding was OK. But I'm just worried about us getting better."

"They just had more energy, and we weren't ready to attack them," Piper said.

Siena's lowest scoring game remains a 65-35 loss to Fairfield on Jan. 2.

Rider took command in the first half with a 22-3 run spanning the closing moments of the first quarter and the final minute of the second.

It began with a transition layup by Daija Moses and ended with two free throws from Amanda Mobley with 46.1 seconds left in the second quarter for a 37-12 lead.

The run included a Rider free throw after Jaques was hit with a technical foul shortly after the second quarter began and Siena trailing 18-9.

Johnson hit a catch-and-shoot three and scored in transition twice for seven straight points that gave the Broncs a 31-11 lead.

Piper made a long jumper in the closing seconds of the first half, but all it did was cut the Rider lead to 37-14 at halftime.
Johnson finished with 14 points for the half.

Siena's struggling offense started the second half on a sour note, as Piper was called for a charge and Marilena Gerostergiou put up an air ball from 3-point range on the first two possessions, but the Saints got on a little roll to chip away at what was a 39-14 Rider lead.

A 10-2 run that included a difficult spinning layup by Piper got Siena within 41-24.

Then Rider's Amanda Mobley got hot from deep range, as she hit three 3-pointers, the last of which gave the Broncs a 52-25 lead late in the third quarter.

"I expect in two years time that we're playing like Rider is right now, like seniors  that are desperate," Jaques said. "The circus shot that Sabrina hit in the second half, I could only laugh, because that's just a senior needing to make a play, and somehow the ball went in. She played like a senior tonight. She's the only one we have."

"Tonight was more about us and what we need to do as a team, coming off two losses," Milligan said. "Our defense was outstanding and really locked on personnel and on Siena's strengths that we wanted to take away. When we can get live-ball turnovers off our defense, then our offense usually follows suit."

The game served as Siena's 20th annual Pink Zone game to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. Not counting Thursday's donations, the Saints have raised just over $191,000 toward the cause.

RIDER

Favre 6-12 2-3 14, Au. Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Mobley 3-5 2-2 11, S. Johnson 9-18 2-5 22, Am. Johnson 5-15 2-4 14, Moses 1-2 1-2 3, Stover 1-4 0-0 2, Hyacienth 0-1 0-0 0, Toomey 1-1 0-0 2, DeMauro 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 26-58 10-18 69.

SIENA

Gerostergiou 1-4 0-0 3, Watts 4-8 0-0 8, Anthony 3-9 0-0 6, Brown 2-5 0-2 4, Piper 5-12 3-3 13, Peterson 0-1 0-0 0, Winston 0-4 0-0 0, Hauer 0-1 2-4 2, Williamson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 16-46 5-9 38.

Rider 18 19 17 15 -- 69

Siena 9 5 13 11 -- 38

3-point goals: Rider 7-16 (Mobley 3-4, S. Johnson 2-6, Am. Johnson 2-4, Stover 0-2); Siena 1-9 (Gerostergiou 1-3, Anthony 0-3, Piper 0-2, Winston 0-1). Rebounds: Rider 31 (Am. Johnson 12); Siena 33 (Gerostergiou, Watts 9). Assists: Rider 18 (Mobley 7); Siena 2 (Piper 2). Total fouls: Rider 10; Siena 22. Attendance: 827.

Reach Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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