By Jake Tiger
With the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament looming, the Rider men’s basketball team sought to take a much-needed leap in the standings on March 3 against the Fairfield Stags.
However, Rider was the one being leapt on, as it took an ugly 65-59 loss and tumbled down the standings.
In a game they desperately needed to win, the Broncs only succeeded in sabotaging themselves with lousy, unnecessary turnovers. They finished with 17 turnovers as a team, giving the ball away on 26.6% of their possessions.
On the other end, the Stags had little trouble offensively, consistently finding the pockets in Rider’s defense and getting high-percentage looks.
“I’m not surprised. We leave guys open all the time. We have breakdowns all the time,” said Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “We talk about what we’re supposed to do and we don’t do it. Same guys, same breakdowns every game. Nothing’s changed.”
Fairfield’s TJ Long was particularly troublesome for the Broncs, as he hit seven consecutive threes and hoisted his team to victory with 23 points off the bench.
While Fairfield’s bench propelled its team to victory, the Broncs got next to nothing from their reserves, that being a common thread throughout the season.
“I don’t think we have anybody we can count on off the bench. I think it’s a big problem,” said Baggett.
Sophomore guard Corey McKeithan had the team’s only bench points, scoring two points in 20 minutes, and after starting in Rider’s Feb. 27 game against Iona, junior guard Sedrick Altman played just two minutes against Fairfield.
Despite a poor team performance, junior guard Allen Powell managed to contribute, scoring a team-high 20 points and continuing a stretch of improved play. Though, Baggett was ultimately uninterested in Powell’s ability to put up numbers.
“I’m pleased with what [Powell’s] doing, but it’s about the team. It’s not about the individual,” said Baggett. “I’m happy for him but we’re not winning.”
Possessing a 7-12 conference record, the Broncs sit at 10th in the MAAC standings with just one game remaining before the tournament.
Rider will close out the regular season with a home game against Monmouth on March 5 at 4 p.m.