Saturday, January 21, 2017

Rider halts three-game slide with season sweep of Marist

Stevie Jordan's 15 points led five Broncs in double figures as Rider ended three-game losing streak with convincing win against Marist. (Photo by Rider University Athletics)

By Brandon Scalea (@brandonscalea)

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ — A lot has happened in a little over a week for the Rider men’s basketball team.

​Once 4-1 in league play and sitting pretty in first place, the Broncs dropped their next three, including a 10-point loss to Siena that ended with Rider coach Kevin Baggett and Saints coach Jimmy Patsos headlined on major sports networks for the postgame handshake, or lack thereof.

​But Rider regrouped well and finished a season sweep of Marist on Saturday, dropping the Red Foxes, 84-66, at Alumni Gym. The Broncs struck early and often, and other than a brief moment in the opening minutes of the game, they led for its entirety. Freshman guard Stevie Jordan, who was scoreless in the first half, dropped 15 points in the second before fouling out. Four other Broncs made it to double figures, and every Rider player to see action scored at least eight points on a night where the home team dominated the visiting Red Foxes on the glass by a 54-23 margin, with Tyere Marshall's 13 boards leading all participants.

​Baggett said he was pleased with the way his team rebounded from its recent struggles.

​“This was a team effort from top to bottom,” he said. “From everybody on the bench, to our starters, it was good to see us compete.”

​Anthony Durham was suspended from tonight’s game after appearing to throw a punch at Siena’s Marquis Wright on January 17, so freshman Xzavier Malone got an extended role. His first shot of the game was a clean three from the corner, and he also had a nice putback layup at the halftime buzzer to put Rider up 40-35. The freshman from Philadelphia finished with six points.

​“I was glad to see Xzavier have the kind of game he had,” Baggett said. “Too much has been weighing on his head about not playing and not having the kind of year he wanted to have. We just need him to go out there and enjoy it and defend and take care of the ball. We know he can score.”

​In the second half, Rider was able to pull away. Despite coming into the contest as one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the nation, the Broncs hit their final 10 free throws. Sophomore Kealen Washington-Ives was notably 7-for-8 from the line. However, at the final media timeout, Rider only led by two possessions, 68-62. A bucket by Ives, followed by a three-pointer from Norville Carey, all but sealed the deal as the Broncs went on a 16-4 run to close out the game.

​The Broncs improve to 12-8 overall, 5-4 in MAAC play, and are now part of a five-way tie for third place, with Monmouth and Saint Peter’s alone in first and second, respectively. Rider’s next game will be on Monday night, against the second-place Peacocks at the Yanitelli Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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