By Shaun Chornobroff
Amidst a series of embarrassing losses and the worst start in Head Coach Kevin Baggett’s tenure at Rider, the men’s basketball team has found itself come out on the losing end of some hard fought battles. However on New Year’s Day on the road against Fairfield, Rider won its second game of the year 70-62.
The win breaks the teams four game losing streak and brings Rider’s record to 2-3 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play and 2-5 on the season.
“It’s so hard to win, every game is a morale booster,” Baggett said after his sixth-straight win over the Stags. “To go into the new year doing it, we definitely need it and we just needed to get off this losing streak.”
Rider had as much as a 14 point lead in the second half, but with 5:41 left in the game the score was knotted up at 56. Unlike its previous matchups with St. John’s and the latter of its losses against Iona, the Broncs took control of the game and never let Fairfield get a lead.
“We were able to settle down and once they tied the score, we didn’t lose our composure, we actually learned from some of the games early on that we lost,” Baggett said. “I think that shows maturity… In the past we lost those leads and lost the games, so it definitely showed maturity that we settled down.”
Rider went on a 12-3 run in the ensuing minutes after the Stags tied the game and with 32 seconds left in the game junior guard Dwight Murray Jr. put two free throws home to end any chance the Stags had at coming back.
The team was aided by nearly immaculate free-throw shooting in the second half, making its first 15 attempts from the charity stripe.
“It’s been nice to see that we can step up when a game is on the line and not have to struggle to pull every game out,” Baggett told reporters. “We built a little bit of a lead because we were able to make free throws.”
Rider’s only two misses from the free throw line occurred with the team already up 70-59 and 22 seconds left on the clock.
Murray led Rider with 20 points and five rebounds on the night and was second on the team in assists with four during the game.
Murray and the rest of the Broncs will try to climb to .500 in MAAC play on Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. in the final game of its weekend series with Fairfield.