Broncs’ season promising after 2-0 start

By Austin Ferguson

The start to the 2019-2020 season for the men’s basketball team continued to be successful after the Broncs defeated Delaware State, 81-54, on Nov. 8.

Rider traveled to Dover, Delaware, for its second consecutive game against a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opponent. The Broncs defeated Coppin State on Nov. 4, 91-84.

Early on in the first half, freshman guard Christian Ings scored his first collegiate points after sinking a three-point shot he was fouled on. 

The Broncs got ahead early in the first half and led by as much as 25 points after redshirt freshman forward Tyrel Bladen finished an alley-oop pass from freshman guard Allen Powell in his first regular season collegiate appearance. Rider took a 49-24 lead into the locker room at the end of the first half.

From the start of the second half, the Broncs picked up where they left off. After the Rider lead topped out twice at 31 points, the Broncs’ starters were taken off the court for the rest of the game with 13 minutes left to play.

The Rider bench was able to re-extend the Broncs’ lead to 30 after freshman guard Khalil Turner scored his first collegiate points from a shot behind the arc at the seven-minute mark. The Broncs’ reserves sailed smoothly to the final buzzer as Rider won, 81-54.

Redshirt junior forward Frederick Scott was one of five Broncs who scored in double figures against Delaware State and led all Rider players with 13 points. Scott was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week on Nov. 11 for his performances against Delaware State and Coppin State. Scott was also named College Sports Madness MAAC Player of the Week.

“It’s just business as usual,” said Scott. “It’s just playing to win, getting myself to where I need to be, and helping the team.”

Scott was joined by redshirt junior Dimencio Vaughn, senior guard Stevie Jordan, Ings and senior center Tyere Marshall in double-figure scoring with 12, 12, 11 and 10 points scored respectively.

Marshall grabbed nine boards against Delaware State and led the Broncs in the rebounding category. Vaughn, graduate student guard Willy Nunez Jr. and sophomore forward Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson followed close behind, all grabbing seven rebounds in the contest.

Three Rider guards shared distribution duties. Jordan, Powell and Ings all dished out three assists in the Nov. 8 contest.

Thanks to the early exit from the Broncs’ starters, Rider rookies saw extended minutes against Delaware State. Ings led the Broncs with 30 minutes played on the floor. Powell and Turner also experienced heavy loads and played 21 and 15 minutes respectively.

“I think the new players are coming along,” Head Coach Kevin Baggett said. “Ings is really starting to figure things out, Powell has done a good job from day one…Turner is figuring it out…he’s getting better in practice and figuring it out.”

Rider has won its last 12 games against MEAC opponents. The last time the Broncs lost to a MEAC program was on Jan. 14, 1998 against Maryland Eastern Shore. On the day of that loss, none of the current Rider freshmen had been born yet and Baggett was working his first college coaching job as an assistant for James Madison University.

The Broncs will travel to Tempe, Arizona, as they begin participation in the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 17 against Arizona State. Virginia, Massachusetts, St. John’s University, Columbia, Vermont and Central Connecticut State are also taking part in the tournament.

Rider last played a Pac-12 opponent on Dec. 17, 2018, when it lost to Washington State in the Continental Classic Tire Las Vegas Classic.

“[Arizona State] is a very good team, but our mindset is trying to stay on this winning streak,” Baggett said.

A Rider win over Arizona State would mark the Broncs’ first 3-0 start in 48 years. Rider began the 1971-1972 season with consecutive wins against Bucknell, Delaware Valley and Scranton.

Baggett attributed the Broncs’ early success to hard work over the offseason.

“The guys did a good job putting in work this summer and I think the results of that are showing up at this point,” Baggett said. “But it’s a long season, we have to continue to play as a team, we have to continue to focus and we have to not focus on individual achievement, but on what we need as a team to continue to have success.”

Scott emphasized particularity when it came to playing against larger schools.

“It’s about paying attention to details,” Scott said. “We’re doing our scouting, taking it day-by-day this week to prepare ourselves right for the W.”

For Rider men’s basketball updates, follow Austin Ferguson on Twitter here.

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