By Benjamin Shinault and Dain Smith
Rider men’s basketball has had quite the workload to kick off the season as the team has faced nationally ranked Marquette on Nov. 10 and Nebraska on Nov. 13. The Broncs so far on the road trip have gone winless.
‘We have to play better’
Marquette defeated Rider 95-65 in its first battle against another Division I school on Nov. 10 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The Broncs’ starting five was senior guard Corey McKeithan, senior guard Allen Powell, graduate student guard T.J. Weeks, senior forward Tariq Ingraham and senior forward Mervin James.
The Broncs kept up with the Golden Eagles at the start but fell behind as consistency lacked throughout the game.
Marquette began with a dominating 14-2 run, making the score 40-23 with 5:55 in the first half then quickly creating a 20-point deficit.
Marquette’s defense was paramount to the win, sending doubles and trapping players mostly to James.
This created turnovers for the Broncs when posting up in the paint with their back turned.
Head Coach Kevin Bagget said, “We need to do a better job …We didn’t simulate at practice well enough, and we certainly learned that today. So we just got to go and watch our film tomorrow, and work on it in practice and get better.”
At halftime, the Broncs were down 17, the score sitting at 49-32.
The beatdown got even more brutal in the second half, as the Golden Eagles extended their lead to 32 points, finishing at 95-65.
“The guys need to understand what it is that we’re trying to get done and not take quick shots, and be more focused on the defense, and that’s what it’s about for us … We only had six turnovers in the first half, then we had five quick turnovers in the second half. That can’t happen.”
With this in mind, Baggett explained how he planned to approach the following game against Nebraska.
“We have to play better in that game than we did tonight, be a better team, be better teammates, defend the three-point line, not give up as many transition points, and we will be fine,” said Baggett.
‘I thought we battled’
Coming off a brutal 30-point loss at the hands of Marquette, Rider continued its midwest road trip and headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, on Nov. 13 to take on the Cornhuskers where they would face yet another fierce opponent and another tough loss, 64-50.
Baggett and his coaching staff took a different route heading into the game against the Cornhuskers as they elected to start James on the bench instead of putting him in the starting rotation.
The Broncs as a whole did not shoot well in the first or second half as they had a combined field goal percentage of 30.4%. From beyond the arc it was just as disappointing, as they only knocked down six of their 25 attempts.
McKeithan recorded a new career high in points with 18. McKeithan also grabbed five rebounds, assisted on two buckets and recorded a block.
Despite the loss and the lackluster offensive numbers, Rider did come to play on the defensive side of the court as they held the Cornhuskers to only 64 points and kept Nebraska out of the paint, holding them to only 18 points within the painted region.
“We played a whole hell of a lot better than we did in the Marquette game the other night. Gave up some costly threes when the game was in the balance. I’m encouraged by our guys,” Baggett said after the loss on GoBroncs.
With the loss, Rider drops to 1-2 on the season and they will now look ahead to their next opponent, Duquesne. The Broncs will face off against the Dukes on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.