By Maria Eldridge
Rider defeated the Delaware Blue Hens in the Sears BracketBuster for its 20th win of the season on Saturday in a high-scoring affair, 95-86.
The victory over the Blue Hens (13-15, 8-9 CAA) was highlighted by several stand-out performances. Senior Justin Robinson scored a career-high 31 points, all from beyond the arc or at the foul line. Robinson, who now has 1,427 points in his career as a Bronc, went 13 for 14 from the charity stripe in the contest, while also dishing out five assists.
Senior Mike Ringgold had 19 points and freshman Danny Stewart contributed 12 points and blocked three shots for the Broncs (20-9, 11-5 MAAC). Stewart was recently named MAAC Rookie of the Week for his play last week.
“It was a close game and they were coming off a win so we knew this would be tough,” said Stewart. “The game plan was to get stops, rebound and, of course, go and get the 20th win because no one will hand it to us.”
Stewart has defied the freshman stigma and made his mark as a significant contributor among his upperclassmen teammates.
“I just have to know my limitations and do the right things,” said Stewart. “I feel like a big part of the team and these last two games I want to make a statement. I want to make my captains happy on their last home-court appearance.”
This weekend will be the Broncs’ final weekend of the season. They play at Marist (5-24 overall, 3-13 MAAC) tonight and Saint Peter’s (17-11 overall, 11-5 MAAC) on Sunday at Alumni Gym. The weekend could launch the Broncs into the MAAC championship on a five-game winning streak.
Rider can’t afford to have a letdown against Marist before the showdown for second place on Sunday with the Peacocks. Rider, Saint Peter’s and Iona (18-10 overall, 11-5 MAAC) are all tied for second in the MAAC behind Fairfield.
The Broncs split with Iona during the regular season and have a better overall record than the Gaels, who still have to play Saint Peter’s and Fairfield (22-5 overall, 14-2 MAAC) this weekend. With two wins, the Broncs will secure second place at seasons end.
Rider’s previous matchup with Marist this season was a decisive win, 80-66. Marist struggled to break an 11-game losing streak, but finally notched a win over New Hampshire in last weekend’s Sears BracketBuster.
The Peacocks of Saint Peter’s will present yet another challenge for Rider. Saint Peter’s, 3-2 in its last five games, defeated the Broncs handily, 80-60, in their last meeting on Jan. 29 at Saint Peter’s.
“My goal was to get a chance to play since most freshmen don’t, and now my focus is helping my team achieve the ultimate goal, and that is winning the MAAC championship and going to the NCAA tournament,” said Stewart.