By Corey Donetz
The men’s basketball team returned to Alumni Gym on Jan. 28 to take on Manhattan after a three-game road trip. The Broncs than went to Fairfield on Jan. 30 to face the Stags.
Rider was able to defeat both the Jaspers and Stags, extending its win streak to three. The Broncs beat Manhattan 74-71, while winning 88-80 over Fairfield.
The first half against Manhattan was all Jaspers with a 39-30 lead at halftime as the MAAC leading scorer, junior Rico Pickett, put up 28 points.
“The first half, we didn’t play well,” said Head Coach Tommy Dempsey. “If we continued to play that way in the second half, we certainly weren’t going to win.”
Junior Mike Ringgold took charge and shut down Pickett in the second half holding him to a mere four points.
“Mike came out in the second half and really locked on to Pickett,” Dempsey said. “Mike took it personal that Pickett scored 28 points in a half in our gym.”
The 6’7” forward had one thing in mind.
“I just wanted to lock him down,” said Ringgold, and he certainly did.
Senior Ryan Thompson had 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists to lead the Broncs.
Sophomore Novar Gadson finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Junior Justin Robinson added 16 points of his own, which included two three-point field goals in the final two minutes and two foul shots with just under 10 seconds left.
After the win against Manhattan, the Broncs went back on the road to play Fairfield, which sports a second place status in the MAAC standings with an 8-3 record in the conference. The win at Fairfield gave the Broncs their first three-game winning streak in nearly a month.
Thompson took charge with a career-high 31 points in the Broncs’ victory. Thompson also added 11 big rebounds to go along with his monstrous scoring night. He was also a career-high 15-16 from the foul line.
“It was a great game against a real good team,” Thompson said. “I was just aggressive and got to the foul line a lot and was making open shots.”
Fairfield’s 6’8” senior forward Mike Evanovich kept the game close throughout by hitting his first eight three-point field goal attempts, a Fairfield record, and also had 18 points in the first half.
Robinson accumulated 15 points, and Gadson added 14 points of his own as well as six rebounds, including four free throws in the final two minutes to help preserve the win.
Juniors Jhamar Youngblood and Ringgold added 11 and nine points, respectively. Rider had a slim four-point lead before out-scoring Fairfield 6-2 over the final 54 seconds, three of the points by Thompson.
“The entire team has been playing better of late, and it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Thompson said.
Rider’s next game is tonight at 7 p.m. against Loyola (MD) starting a three-game homestand and looking to avenge its 68-66 loss to Loyola earlier in the season.