Broncs grind out win in MAAC opener

By Matt LoPuzzo

Going up against the newest addition to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) the Broncs men’s basketball team didn’t know what to expect. Although the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers gave them a good first taste, ultimately, the Broncs pulled through with a 68-65 victory. 

“It’s hard to win, it’s harder to win on the road” said Head Coach Kevin Bagget after the Broncs first MAAC win of the season. The Mountaineers and Broncs both came out the gates scorching hot shooting 9-of-12 in the opening minutes.

The momentum didn’t go either way throughout the first half with 12 lead changes and eight ties. Senior guard Dwight Murray Jr has been the star of the Broncs so far this season and it continued tonight with 19 points of his own.

“I’m in the gym everyday at least two times a day, I go before practice for like 45 minutes and then practice and then afterwards.” Senior guard Dwight Murray Jr said of his success. 

The teams went back and forth with each other until another vicious block from senior forward Mervin James, who’s been an anchor in the paint for the Broncs, gave his team momentum. Still shooting fireballs the Mountaineers just couldn’t gravitate away from this feisty Broncs team.

The Broncs were just creating more opportunities off turnovers and second chance points. Rider scored 24 points off turnovers and 19 second chance points.

 “I thought our guys did a good job taking the game plan and executing it,” Baggett said of why his team was able to create these opportunities while being outshot.

As halftime approached senior guard Allen Powell hit two triples to send the Broncos into the half only trailing the Mountaineers by 2 points.

“I just thought our guys collectively just buckled down and just decided they’re not gonna let these guys score anything easy.” Said Baggett.

The Broncs, going into halftime, allowed the Mountaineers to shoot 88% from deep. As said by Baggett, the Broncs “buckled down” and limited the Mountaineers to 20% from three in the second half.

The second half for both teams turned into a defensive masterclass as both teams were battling to even put shots up. James has really found his groove of late, scoring 14 points with a couple of those early in the second half aiding the Broncs for momentum.

Both teams found themselves in foul trouble with a little under 12 minutes to remain, but the Broncs flipped a switch and started causing mayhem, causing three turnovers in a two-minute span.

An Allen Powell three in transition gave the Broncs the largest lead of the game at seven with six minutes to go. 

The Mountaineers stormed back with three minutes to go, capitalizing on a couple miscommunications from the Broncs defense to knot things up.

You could feel a shift in the game with how the Mountaineers were playing but the always reliable Murray Jr stepped up to the plate and drained a game tying three with two minutes remaining.

“I just told them to keep on playing towards the end, just keep playing defense.” Murray said

Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson was locked down for the entirety of the game until he put the Broncs ahead converting an and-one which ended up being the game winner. 

The Broncs are going off to play the Stonehill Skyhawks on Dec. 7 in South Easton, Massachusetts.

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