By Jordan Hall
For the first time all season, Rider played how everyone expected them to play. In a year that has consisted of mostly struggles and negatives, the Broncs put together their best performance of the season, a complete effort from the tip to the final buzzer.
There was no slow start, sloppy play or late meltdown. Rider (4-11, 1-2 MAAC) compiled a total dismantling of Manhattan (9-6, 2-1 MAAC) on the road, winning its first MAAC contest, 88-77.
Even sweeter, the victory avenged a 71-55 loss to the Jaspers back on Dec. 2 at Alumni Gym.
The Broncs closed the first half on a 14-6 run and began the second frame on a 13-6 spurt, leading to their largest lead of the night, 65-41.
Rider set season highs in points (88), three-pointers made (12) and assists (23) while the defense held Manhattan below 80 points.
Not only did the Broncs put forth their best showing of the season, but so did senior Novar Gadson. The preseason First Team All-MAAC selection has had a tough time recovering from offseason knee surgery, but on Monday night, he looked like his old self.
The 6’7” wing netted a season-best 21 points and played 30 minutes for the first time in a month. Gadson also collected six rebounds and tallied five assists.
Rider has won three of its last four games and in its past five matchups, the Broncs have had only one poor outing versus Stony Brook away from home.
Some teams have to see their potential before reaching it. Rider saw its last night; let’s see if they can continue it on Friday against Marist.
In MAAC news:
ESPN college basketball expert Joe Lunardi announced his latest bracketology projections and two teams from the MAAC (Iona, Fairfield) made his 68-team field.
The main reason for this impressive feat is because Lunardi posted his predictions prior to Iona’s win last night over Siena, and before that game, Fairfield technically stood atop the standings with a 3-0 conference mark compared to Iona’s 2-0 record, therefore, the Stags (8-6) received the automatic bid.
But, this is an indication that Iona is clearly in the at-large conversation. The Gaels (11-3, 3-0 MAAC) have been one of America’s top mid-major squads and if they run the table in league play but falter in the MAAC Tournament, they could very much make the Big Dance as an at-large participant, turning the typical one-bid MAAC into a two-team league.