By Thomas Albano
At a time of the season when winning games is crucial, the Broncs look to get back onto winning ways when they take on Manhattan at home in Alumni Gym on Feb. 13.
The Broncs (12-11, 8-6 MAAC) go into the game on a two-game losing skid, with losses coming at home against Marist (9-14, 6-7 MAAC) 68-61 on Feb. 6, and most recently on the road against Quinnipiac (14-8, 9-4 MAAC) 82-61 on Feb. 8.
Head Coach Kevin Baggett attributes the team’s recent struggles to a combination of things that include fatigue.
“We played six games in 15 days now,” Baggett said. “We played four in nine or four in 10, so we’re a little worn out.”
This is only the second time in the last 14 match-ups that the Red Foxes have defeated the Broncs.
The game against Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn., saw the Broncs struggle when it came to grabbing the boards. Quinnipiac, who leads the nation in rebounds per game, out-rebounded Rider 44-30. This included the Bobcats leading the Broncs by seven in both offensive and defensive rebounding.
With a tiring team, Baggett knew it was going to be hard for the Broncs to compete against Quinnipiac with its style of play, especially in rebounds.
“It certainly didn’t do us any favors by playing them at the end of this stretch,” Baggett said. “There’s times in the schedule where things don’t line up, but you got to find ways to win those games. You can’t complain about it. Everyone’s going through the stretch of the schedule. It’s a really good league.”
Senior forward Danny Stewart would lead the team with 15 points in the game against the Bobcats. Freshman guard Jimmie Taylor and sophomore guard Khalil Alford were just behind Stewart, totaling 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Five Quinnipiac players scored in double figures while compiling 11 assists.
The lead margin would show the Bobcats’ outperformed the Broncs. Rider’s greatest lead was when the team led 7-2 four minutes into the game. However, it slowly, but surely, became all Bobcats. Quinnipiac led Rider by as much as 22, and would win by 21. Rider would not lead at all in the second half.
The two-game losing streak comes after a period where the Broncs won three in a row for the second time this season. Rider has only six games remaining this season until the MAAC Championship.
Having already faced Manhattan (16-6, 9-4 MAAC) in a showdown on ESPNU on Jan. 24 that saw the Broncs struggle and lose 67-51, Baggett is focused for the rematch.
“They forced us into some turnovers last time and we got to be more aggressive,” Baggett said. “Last time we were a little passive against their little man-to-man zone. So we just got to go in with the mindset that everything we do we got to be aggressive.”
Sophomore guard Zedric Sadler believes that though the team couldn’t grind it out against Quinnipiac because of “dead legs,” they have something to prove in this game against the Jaspers.
“It’s a must-win game and we really need this win to open the eyes of people,” Sadler said. “I think people really think when they play us they can push us around and we won’t fight back. So, we will be ready and strapped up for this game.”
Sophomore forward Shawn Valentine is confident in his team’s ability as the season wraps up.
“We want to win it all,” Valentine said. “My team and I have each other’s back and we still have a lot of work to do. We will get the job done.”