By David Pavlak
Stepping away from your home court can be tough for some teams. However, the men’s basketball team is managing itself well away from Alumni Gym. Going 10-4 after this past week, the Broncs (15-8, 7-4 MAAC) squared off against the Iona Gaels (13-9, 7-4 MAAC), squeaking by with a 61-59 win, followed by a tough loss to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks (13-9, 8-3 MAAC), 80-60.
The Broncs had to endure a long week away from the comforts of home, coming out fairly successfully, going 2-1 in a three-game stretch. Going on the road can be a challenge for most teams’, but head coach Tommy Dempsey is confident in his team’s ability every time they step on the court, no matter where it may be.
“The guys have experience and have won on the road before,” said Dempsey. “A lot of the time young teams have a hard time winning on the road, but we have the experience and the confidence to win on the road. You really just have to take it one game at a time. If you get caught looking at it as the next three games, that can be a little bit intimidating.”
The Broncs looked ahead and focused all their attention on Iona, an opponent Rider faced earlier this year, walking away with a 100-96 OT loss back at home. With all of its scoring capabilities, Rider cracked down on defense.
Senior guard Justin Robinson managed one point in the first half for the Broncs but rebounded in the second half with 18 points, aiding Rider in its quest for a victory against the Gaels.
The game would not end without the typical last-second anxiety, however. Rider sank two free throws, putting them up 61-58. Iona was fouled immediately on the inbound and made the first free throw. After purposely missing the second free throw, Iona snared the rebound and just missed the game-winning buzzer-beater as time ran out.
Having a couple days off before boarding the bus to Saint Peters may have been too much for the Broncs.
Although they lost, 80-60, the game was much closer than the final score indicated. Coach Dempsey concluded that tired legs may have been one of the reasons Rider was not able to pull off the clean sweep of away games this past week.
Another factor that haunted the Broncs was the 20 turnovers they committed. The Peacocks also outscored the Broncs in the paint 38-20, and in second chance points, 13-4. Robinson accumulated 16 points, while junior forward Brandon Penn and freshman forward Danny Stewart each added 11 of their own.
As the week concluded, Rider found out that it would be playing Delaware (11-10, 6-5 CAA) as its BracketBuster opponent this year. Against teams in the Colonial Athletic Assosciation this year, Rider has fallen twice, once to Drexel (15-7, 7-5 CAA) and once to Hofstra (14-9, 8-4 CAA).
“It will be good for our guys to try to get another win from this division,” Dempsey said when asked about his feelings about playing Delaware.
The Broncs will face off against Loyola (MD) (11-10, 7-4 MAAC) tonight at 7 p.m. Alumni Gym will be filled with electricity as Rider will try to walk away with a victory. On Sunday, Rider will travel to Fairfield to match up with the league-leading Stags at 3:30 p.m. (17-4, 10-1 MAAC).