Broncs open MAAC play with optimism

By Michael O’Brien

Head Coach Kevin Baggett saw something during Saturday’s win at Drexel that many have not seen yet this year – a desire to win when it mattered most.

The Broncs rallied in the second half, including a 14-0 run to defeat the Dragons 75-66 in what many are calling a revengeful victory for the Broncs after Drexel hammered Rider by 18 in the Zoo last year during the ESPN 6 a.m. game.

Junior forward Daniel Stewart led the way by scoring 21 points and senior guard Jon Thompson also had 14 points.  The Broncs also solved a problem that they have had all year – free throws. The Broncs shot an impressive 77 percent from the charity line.

This weekend represents a preview of what will happen during MAAC play this year as the Broncs will have their first of two conference games as they travel to face Siena tonight. The Broncs will host Fairfield later this weekend. Although Siena was picked to finish among the elite this year in the MAAC, they have not shown any momentum as they have limped out to a 2-7 start. Yet, this team still has weapons that can cause problems to any team that faces them.

The player the Broncs will have the closest eye on will be senior center OD Ansoike who was picked as a preseason first team All-MAAC and has a double-double average this season.  Also sophomore guards Evan Hymes and Rob Poole have been a huge threat from three point land and have a very good free throw percentage as well.  A key for a win tonight will be to crash the boards and prevent Ansoike from making easy put-back lay ups.

On Sunday the Broncs welcome the Stags of Fairfield to Lawrenceville, N.J. in a rematch from last year’s thrilling MAAC playoff game as the Broncs saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion, 65-63. Fairfield also provides a lot of talent on their roster, particularly senior guard Derek Needham who was the recent MAAC player of the week and is one of the top scorers in the league. A key in Sunday’s game will to be to defend the three point shot as Fairfield is a team that likes to score a lot from downtown.  As I put it in the beginning of the season, there is no clear cut favorite in the MAAC this year and it showed Wednesday night as powerhouses Loyola (MD) and Iona both lost in conference play. It goes to show that teamwork will be the ultimate factor in who gets to the madness in March.

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