By Corey Donetz
Rider bounced back from a tough 67-65 loss handed to them by Canisius last Friday by taking down Niagara 61-50 on Sunday, and Loyola (MD) 82-70 on Wednesday.
“It was a team that was under the radar. Not a lot was expected from this group, and we’ve continued to get better,” said head coach Tommy Dempsey.
The Broncs’ (19-9, 11-5 MAAC) win over Loyola (MD) (13-13, 9-7 MAAC) has them currently sitting second in the MAAC. The win also gives Rider its highest win total for a four-year span with 78 wins and counting. The win also gives Rider’s senior class of Justin Robinson, Mike Ringgold and Patrick Mansell the most wins as a senior class.
Rider had a well-balanced attack with six players in double-digit points. Freshman Danny Stewart accumulated 12 points and 15 rebounds, recording his fourth double-double of the season.
Alongside Stewart in the paint was Ringgold, who had a team-high 14 points.
“Mike is a tremendous leader,” said Stewart. “Having him beside me helps me on the court because I play off him, and when he’s doubled I make myself available.”
After taking an early 4-2 lead, the Broncs would not trail for the rest of the game. Loyola (MD) did make a push with just over 12 minutes left in the second half, but that was silenced when junior Novar Gadson drilled a shot from long range to put the lead back at five.
Gadson’s three-pointer was the start of a 19-11 run, which was capped off with a three-pointer by Robinson to give the Broncs a 10 point lead, 71-61. Gadson had 11 points and three rebounds and Robinson had eight points and five assists. Freshman Anthony Myles and sophomore Jon Thompson each had 12 points while junior Brandon Penn compiled 10. The Broncs closed out the game by matching Loyola’s (MD) scoring with jump shots and making their free throws down the stretch to take the road victory 82-70.
“I think the team played well,” added Stewart. “We battled and it’s another great road win for us. We needed it.”
Following the loss to Canisius, Rider needed to bounce back quickly and it did at home in Alumni Gym Sunday. It wasn’t pretty, but the Broncs stuck it out and beat conference rival Niagara (7-21, 4-12 MAAC), 61-50.
It was a close game until the 12-minute mark in the second half when the Broncs began to pull away. Even though the score was close for most of the game, Rider was never in real danger of losing the game.
“Good teams need to find a way when they don’t have their best stuff,” Dempsey said.
Thompson added six points and five assists. He leads the MAAC in assist to turnover ratio (2.7) and ranks in the top 10 in the nation. Rider played stellar perimeter defense, holding Niagara without a three pointer as it went 0-17 from deep.
Rider hosted Canisius (13-13, 7-9 MAAC), a team that had never won in Alumni Gym before and lost in a tough game. The game was back and forth until the very end when Canisius guard Gaby Belardo hit a fade-away jumper as the shot clock expired to give Canisius a two-point lead with 8 seconds remaining.
“Belardo hit a tough fade-away shot,” said Stewart. “It was a great game and we had a great effort.”
Rider plays its Bracket Buster game this Sunday against Delaware (12-14, 7-9 CAA). The Broncs also look to finish the season strong with conference games remaining against Marist and St. Peters to create momentum leading into the MAAC tournament.