By Rob Rose
In a battle between the top two squads in the MAAC, and Co-Regular Season Champions last season, the men’s basketball team improved to 3-0 in conference play with a 82-73 victory at Canisius on Jan. 11.
Sophomore forward Frederick Scott, with the game tied at 63, shot faked and drew a foul while he attempted a three-pointer with 3:11 left in the game. He hit all three foul shots and gave Rider a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Scott, who started in place of sophomore forward Dimencio Vaughn for the fifth-straight game, struggled to stay on the court after he picked up two early fouls, but dominated the second half, and turned in a 22-point, five-rebound effort in 23 minutes.
“Tale of two halves,” said Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “He wasn’t ready early on, but fortunately we talked to him at [halftime].”
Vaughn returned to action after he missed the previous four games due to an ankle injury. He came off the bench and scored four points in 14 minutes.
“Good to have our energy guy back,” said Baggett. “We need him to get back healthy. He is important to our success.”
In the second half, Baggett unleashed the Rider full-court press and eliminated an 11-point deficit behind its suffocating defense. The Broncs forced 13 second-half turnovers, which they converted into 18 points.
For the third-consecutive MAAC game, Rider allowed its opponent to connect for double-digit three-pointers. Against Fairfield on Jan. 3, Rider allowed 13 three-pointers, vs. Quinnipiac on Jan. 5, Rider gave up 12 triples before Canisius connected 11 times from beyond the arc.
On their own side, the Broncs only made one three-pointer, but outscored the Golden Griffins by 18 in points in the paint.
Canisius guard Isaiah Reese, who was selected as the 2018-19 MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, turned in his best performance of the season against Rider. Reese averaged 17 points per game (ppg) last season and had been held to 12 ppg this season before he put up 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists against the Broncs.
With Reese in an early-season slump, Takal Molson, the 2017-18 MAAC Rookie of the Year, had stepped up for the Golden Griffins. Molson, who scored 19 points against the Broncs, increased his scoring average to 17 ppg this season, up from 12.6 ppg last year.
A pair of juniors, guard Stevie Jordan and center Tyere Marshall, kept the Broncs in the game with consistent offense during the contest. Marshall scored 11 points, and did most of his damage early in the game, while Jordan fueled his squad with 14 points while he orchestrated the Rider attack in his 39 minutes on the floor.
For the second time in three games, Rider came back from a double-digit deficit against a MAAC opponent and emerged victorious. The Broncs also picked up their second win of the season after they trailed at halftime.
Rider’s next game is on the road again, as it travels to Niagara for a 2 p.m. matchup on Jan. 13.
“We know [Niagara] are good, we know they can score, we got to defend,” said Baggett. “If we defend like we did in the second half [against Canisius], the entire game, we’ll give those guys problems.”
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