By Rob Rose
After three single-digit victories in its first three conference games, the men’s basketball team used a offensive explosion in the second half to blow out Niagara, 104-84, on Jan. 13. Rider has started 4-0 in MAAC play for the first time in 18 seasons.
“I thought our guys did a good job of showing up today, playing for 40 minutes,” said Head Coach Kevin Baggett in his postgame radio interview. “I like where we’re headed.”
Following a 36-point first half, the Broncs exploded for 34 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and were 14-for-19 from the field. In the entire second half, Rider poured in 65 points to pull away from Niagara.
“Offensively, we know what we’re capable of doing,” said Baggett.
Junior center Tyere Marshall fueled the Rider offense as he dominated in the paint on his way to a double-double. Marshall scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, both season highs, which outdid his season averages of nine points and six rebounds.
Usually known for his abilities as a playmaker, junior guard Kimar Williams called his own number against Niagara. Williams, who entered the contest averaging five points per game (ppg), poured in 14 points and grabbed four rebounds, while he ran the offense for the Broncs with four assists.
Coming out of the locker room, Rider increased its intensity and separated from Niagara. In the first four minutes of the second half, the Broncs scored 15 points and held the Purple Eagles to seven, which pushed their lead to 10.
After he initially performed well in his new role, sophomore guard Jordan Allen had struggled to score before he connected for 16 points against Niagara. Prior to the start of conference play, Allen had averaged 14.3 ppg., but in his previous three games, Allen failed to record a double-digit scoring performance, despite a clutch three-pointer against Quinnipiac on Jan. 5.
Sophomore forward Dimencio Vaughn continued to come off the bench as he returns from an ankle injury that forced him to miss four games. Vaughn scored five points and pulled down two rebounds in his second game back in the lineup.
Both teams got off to hot starts on the offensive end, with Rider leading 20-19 eight minutes into the game, but it wouldn’t last. In the last 12 minutes of the first half, the Broncs and Purple Eagles scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, as Rider took a 36-34 lead into the break.
In the victory, six Broncs reached double digits in the scoring column. In addition to Williams, Marshall and Allen, sophomore forward Frederick Scott, graduate student guard Anthony Durham and junior guard Stevie Jordan added 14, 12 and 14 points, respectively.
Rider will return home for its next game on Jan. 19 for a 7 p.m. contest against Manhattan. The game can be streamed on ESPN3.
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