Rider tops Monmouth, 65-62

Courtesy of GoBroncs.com. 

Some baseball players will tell you that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.  Some Rider students will tell you that momentum is mass times velocity.  Some psychologists say it is a temporary shift in confidence and mood.

The Rider basketball team is hoping the shift is not too temporary, as the Broncs hope to carry some momentum with them on their four-game, nine-day road trip that begins Sunday before dawn.

“It is always good to go away after a win,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, who’s Broncs defeated cross-state Monmouth Saturday afternoon to begin the season 2-1.

Junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) compiled 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Rider to victory. “We played hard, but I think we stole one today,” Stewart said. “You can’t turn the ball over that many times and expect to win.”

The Broncs committed 29 turnovers. “Give credit to Monmouth,” Baggett said. “They came in with a good game plan.”

Rider junior Nurideen Lindsey (Philadelphia, PA/Overbrook) made two foul shots with 54 seconds left to give Rider a 64-62 lead, and made another free throw with 18.6 seconds left for the final score.

“Take your hat off to Rider,” said Monmouth head coach King Rice.  “They played for 40 minutes and we didn’t.”

Lindsey finished with seven points. “I didn’t have a good game,” Lindsey said, “but Danny picked it up big-time. We saw the real Danny Stewart today.”

“I had a bad game vs. Stony Brook (Rider’s last game) so today I challenged myself,” Stewart said.  “Today we needed a post presence.”

Stewart scored seven of Rider’s first nine points of the game.

With the score tied at 52-52, Rider out-scored Monmouth 10-4, eight points by Stewart, to take a 62-56 lead with 4:07 left to play.  The Hawks scored the next six to tie the score at 62 with 1:00 remaining.

Trailing 49-36, Monmouth out-scored Rider 16-3, six points by Jesse Steele, to tie the score at 52-52 with 7:27 remaining. Steele finished with 10 points.  Steel’s three-point attempt with 22 seconds left was blocked by freshman Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody).

“Zedric had a big stop there,” Baggett said. Sadler played a career-high 18 minutes due to Lindsey’s foul trouble.  “I didn’t feel any pressure,” Sadler said. “My coaches and teammates have faith in me so that allows me to have confidence.”

Holding a 37-33 lead, Rider went on a 9-0 run, as five different Broncs scored to give Rider a 46-33 lead with 12:29 left to play.

Monmouth scored the first 11 points of the second half, seven by Dion Nesmith, to cut the lead to 37-33. Nesmith finished with a team-high 15 points and four assists.

Rider out-scored Monmouth 13-5 over the final 7:07 of the first half to take a 37-22 lead at intermission.

Holding a 12-10 lead, Rider went on a 12-4 run, as four different Broncs made a three-pointer, to take a 24-14 lead with 9:12 left in the first half. Rider made eight (of 24) three-pointers for the game.

Stephen Spinella scored 13 points off the Monmouth bench.

Lindsey, who entered the game averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, played just 16 minutes due to foul trouble. Lindsey was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week his first week as a Bronc.

Rider senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) added 10 points and five rebounds and junior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy) tied his career-high with nine points, making three three-pointers in 19 minutes off the bench.

Rider held Monmouth 6’6″ sophomore guard Andrew Nichols, who is averaging over 18 points per game, to eight points on 3 of 17 shooting from the field. “He’s their best player, their go-to guy,” Baggett said.

Rider freshman Shawn Valentine (Sicklerville, NJ/Phelps) came in off the bench and compiled a career-high eight points on three for four shooting from the field.

Rider out-rebounded Monmouth 46-38.

Monmouth beat Hofstra by 29 points to start the season before losing at Notre Dame by 27 points.

The Hawks went 10-8 in the Northeast Conference last year to finish in sixth place, but lost to the third seed, Robert Morris, in the NEC playoffs and finished 12-19 overall.

The Hawks have been to the NCAA Tournament three times in the last 12 years, including 2006, but have fallen on hard times, going 12-18, 7-24, 8-23, 12-19, 9-12 and 12-19 over the last six years.

Rider and Monmouth were Northeast Conference rivals for five years in the 1990s. Rider defeated Monmouth in the 1994 NEC Title Game here at Rider and lost the 1996 Title Game at Monmouth.

Rider is now 12-4 vs. Monmouth since the Broncs left the NEC. Rider has won the last six games against Monmouth and eight of the last nine meetings with the Hawks.

The Broncs and Hawks have now met 38 times since the series began in 1974-75 with Rider winning 23.  The last time Monmouth traveled to Lawrenceville the Broncs won 74-54.

Rider beat Monmouth 74-62 in West Long Branch last year.  The last time Monmouth beat Rider was during the 2006-07 season (67-66).

Rider now hits the road for the first time this year to take part in the Hoops for Hope Classic, with four games in two states and two countries.

“We just need to continue to get better and progress as the season goes on,” Baggett said.

The first stop is at the University of South Carolina Monday night, then off to SMU for a Wednesday game in Dallas, Texas, then south of the border to take on Jacksonville and UM-Milwaukee in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Hopefully, they will have some momentum with them.

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