Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tournament Women's Preview: Rider vs. Saint Peter's

Here's another in the series previewing the MAAC women's tournament.


TEAM RECORDS: Rider 9-11 in MAAC play, 13-16 overall; Saint Peter's 2-18 in MAAC play, 3-26 overall. Rider won both regular-season meetings, by scores of 68-40 and 56-55.

WHAT RIDER HAS: One of the top individual players in the league in 6-foot forward MyNeshia McKenzie (19.5 points, 11.1 rebounds per game). It also has some perimeter shooting from guard Mikal Johnson (50 three pointers on the season) and three other players with at least 20 made treys. Freshman forward Julia Duggan is a rugged inside presence and Shereen Lightbourne, who missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, is finally getting on the court for extended minutes and is averaging 24.7 minutes and 10.7 points over the Broncs' last three games. Also, a real quality victory, a 92-90 OT decision over Iona several weeks ago.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S HAS: One of the better inside players in fifth-year senior Kaydine Bent, who is shrewd enough to help her team beat opposing full-court pressure defense. She averages 12.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Antonia Smith, a junior guard who averages 9.2 points, is an explosive offensive player. The team has depth with nine players having started multiple games this season.

WHAT RIDER DOESN'T HAVE: Not a lot inside, other than Duggan, and the Broncs (despite McKenzie's gaudy rebound stats) second from the bottom in the league in terms of rebound differential (minus 3.6). Rider also had a lot of success of late, coming in with a three-game losing streak and a 1-5 record in its last six contests. Injuries have also bothered the team. Lightbourne hasn't been anywhere close to 100 percent this season, and Lashay Banks, at her best a very athletic swingperson, has been hindered by ankle woes much of the season.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S DOESN'T HAVE: It lacks plenty, starting with a true point guard, help for Bent inside and outside shooting. Help is coming, though, with two quality transfers in place for next season. It hasn't helped this year, though, as the Peacocks enter the tournament without a win since Jan. 12, a 14-game losing streak.

COMMENTS: Rider might be the best team not to get a bye into the quarterfinal round in many years and seemingly had a top-five finish clinched before its late-season slump against a less-than-favorable schedule. The Broncs, though, are capable on any given night of beating any team in the league. They should get the Peacocks and give No. 3 Fairfield a tough game in the quarterfinal round.

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