Updated: 01/24/2014 11:44 PM
Created: 01/24/2014 11:29 PM WNYT.com
By: Siena Athletics & WNYT Sports
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – Rider’s Manon Pellet sunk four clutch free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Broncs fended off Siena 73-70 at Alumni Gymnasium. Junior forward Kelsey Booth posted career-highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds in her first collegiate start for Siena in tallying her first career double-double.
Booth, who previously netted a career-high 16 points off the bench in last month’s meeting with Rider (9-10, 4-5), shot 9-11 from the field. Ida Krogh added 12 points and Tehresa Coles contributed 10 for the Saints (6-12, 1-8) which put forth a strong effort despite playing without the team’s second leading scorer Kanika Cummings.
MyNeshia McKenzie posted 24 points and nine rebounds for Rider which swept the season series from Siena for a second straight year after the Saints had won the previous 10 meetings. McKenzie shot 12-14 from the free throw line for Rider which attempted 41 foul shots as a team.
The squads were tied at 32 at the half following an opening stanza which featured seven ties and 12 lead changes. Rider came out firing to start the second half, making eight of their first nine shots and never trailed again. A McKenzie layup gave the Broncs their biggest lead of the game at 10, 51-41 with 14:02 to play.
The Saints responded with a 15-5 run over the next 5:12 to tie the score one final time at 56-56 with 8:50 to play. Booth scored seven of the points during the run.
But Siena could never reclaim the lead. Rider scored on the ensuing possession and while the Saints pulled to within a single point on six different occasions thereafter, they never got any closer.
The Saints had a pair of chances in the waning moments, but down one with 23 seconds left Rider’s Julia Duggan blocked Allison Mullings’ driving layup and Krogh’s attempt at a game-tying three at the buzzer was off line.
Mikal Johnson was clutch late for Rider scoring 11 of her 14 points in the final 12 minutes, while Pellet dished out a career-high 10 assists. Kornelija Valiuskyte, who entered the night with just 22 points in her first 18 games, tied a career-high with 13 points in her first start of the year for the Broncs.
Following a hard fought three-game road trip in which they dropped two of their games by a combined four points, the Saints return home to the Capital Region to open a season long four-game homestand Sunday at 2 p.m. vs. Canisius. The game will be televised throughout New York on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.