Women's Basketball awarded Hercules Tires MAAC Championship Trophy, automatic qualifier
The Rider University Women's Basketball program has been awarded the 2020 Hercules Tires Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship trophies, the conference has announced. The result comes after the cancelation of the remainder of the 2020 championships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 championships were officially canceled on Thursday, March 12, after the first two days of competition were completed. Rider competed in quarterfinal action, with the Broncs defeating No. 9 Niagara to advance to the semifinals.
MAAC bylaws state that in the event the championships cannot be completed, the highest remaining seeds shall be granted the MAAC title and NCAA automatic qualifier. Shortly after the remainder of the championships had been canceled, the NCAA announced that both the men's and women basketball tournaments scheduled to start the following week had also been canceled because of the pandemic.
"The Siena and Rider basketball programs both exhibited outstanding seasons this year," says MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't let these teams try to finish what they set out for at the 2020 Hercules Tires MAAC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships, but the accomplishments that both programs achieved during the regular season should not be dismissed. The MAAC would like to thank all of its corporate sponsors, including Hercules Tires, for their contributions and efforts supporting this year's championships."
Rider finished the season going 26-4 overall with a conference mark of 18-2. The Broncs shared the regular season title with Marist College, splitting the season series with the Red Foxes and winning the tiebreaker to claim the No. 1 seed. The regular season championship marked the first in program history for the Broncs, who clinched a share of the title with a buzzer-beating layup from Amari Johnson against Monmouth University on March 7.
Lynn Milligan was named the 2019-20 "The Rock" MAAC Coach of the Year for her efforts with the program, as voted on by the league's 11 head coaches.
Senior Stella Johnson finished the regular season as the NCAA Division I scoring champion, averaging 24.4 points per game before dropping a MAAC championship record 37 points against Niagara in the championship quarterfinals.
Amari Johnson was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Year behind a season where the senior ranked second in the conference with 10.8 rebounds per game, averaging 2.3 rebounds off the offensive boards and 8.4 (MAAC leading) off the defensive boards.
"While this is not the way we wanted to or anticipated winning a championship, I speak for the entire Rider community in recognizing and appreciating the outstanding play by our women's basketball team throughout this historic season," says Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum. "It is nice to have something so positive to celebrate during these challenging times."