By Rob Rose
After it outlasted Norfolk State at home on Dec. 12, the men’s basketball team dominated the second half against Robert Morris in a 69-50 rout on Dec. 15. The victory was the 13th-straight win at Alumni Gym for the Broncs and the 16th win in their last 17 games, including the final game 2016-17 season.
Junior guard Stevie Jordan continued his strong play to start the campaign. Jordan led Rider in scoring with 17 points, and added six assists and four rebounds. The six assists put Jordan at No. 8 all-time in program history for assists with 378 as he passed Jonathan Thompson.
“I am just going to keep playing and whatever accolades we get, we get,” said Jordan.
The Broncs suffocated the Colonials’ ball handlers the entire afternoon. Rider swiped 16 steals and forced 29 turnovers, of which they scored 33 points. Rider had forced at least 20 turnovers in each of its four victories this year.
“Any team that comes into our gym, can’t handle our [full-court] press,” said Jordan.
Although they held the lead for 96 percent of the first half, the Broncs struggled to pull away from the Colonials. Rider shot 48 percent from the field, but four three-pointers kept Robert Morris close. At the half, Rider led, 36-23.
Junior center Tyere Marshall and sophomore forward Frederick Scott returned to action in the contest. Marshall missed the previous game due to a coach’s decision, while Scott was out with an illness. Scott, the 2017-18 MAAC Sixth Player of the Year, returned to his usual sixth-man role and scored nine points off the bench.
Marshall was replaced by freshman forward Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson on Dec. 12 and the freshman got the start again versus Robert Morris. After he set career highs in points, rebounds and blocks with 10, seven and four, respectively, Ogemuno-Johnson tallied four points in the win while Marshall scored three and grabbed five rebounds.
“We need everybody,” said Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “Everybody is going to help us. We rely on everybody as a team. Any of those guys that come onto the court, we expect them to do what a starter would do.”
Baggett also replaced sophomore guard Jordan Allen with junior guard Kimar Williams once again as the Broncs battled the Colonials. Williams contributed two points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal against the Colonials. Allen thrived as the sixth man against Norfolk State, as he poured in 20 points off the bench and led Rider in scoring.
However, in the contest against Robert Morris, Allen struggled to get anything going offensively in the first half before he connected for 10 second-half points. The sophomore scored 11 points on 12 shots in his 26 minutes.
After a two-game homestand, the Broncs will be on the road until Jan. 5. Rider will begin the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 17 at 10 p.m. when they travel to face Washington State.
Last season, Rider defeated Hampton to secure the Las Vegas Invitational title and look to have similar success this year as they prepare for a 4:30 a.m. flight to Washington.
“It’s great for our team, we bond more,” said Jordan. “It’s just more games and we just love playing basketball.”
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