LAWRENCEVILLE- Thursday night the fans in Alumni Gymnasium sent a Valentine’s Day card to the Rider basketball team. It read:
Roses are red, Violets are blue.
Victory is sweet, in the Broncs’ Zoo.
Junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech), wearing pink socks he borrowed from the Rider women’s basketball team, scored 17 points to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory over Saint Peter’s Thursday night. “I wanted to wear them for Valentine’s Day,” Myles said.
“Good win by our guys,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. “Anthony and Zedric played very well.”
Rider freshman Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody) added a career-high 16 points off the bench, making four of five three-point field goals. “I was playing with confidence and trying to be aggressive tonight,” Sadler said.
Sadler had just 15 points over his last six games.
“I stopped being aggressive,” said the rookie from Detroit, who was a First Team All-City selection last year, earning the ‘Mr. West Side’ award. “Coach told me I had to go back to doing what I did when I was having good games.”
“Zed is whatever we need him to be every night,” Baggett said of his first guard off the bench. “He brings energy defensively and he can score. Tonight he went back to being the Zedric I’m used to putting out on the court.”
On Saint Valentine’s Day the Broncs shot with the accuracy of a Cupid arrow, and the Rider fans loved it. As a team, Rider shot a season-best 59.1 percent from the field.
With the win Rider (14-13, 9-6 MAAC) has now won eight of its last 12 games, with three MAAC games remaining. “This is when we need to separate ourselves, need to show that we are contenders and we can win this league,” Myles said.
With the loss, Saint Peter’s (8-17, 3-12 MAAC) has now lost 11 of its last 13 games. SPU is now 0-7 in MAAC games on the road.
Holding a 62-51 lead, Rider out-scored Saint Peter’s 8-0 to take a 70-51 lead with 3:07 left to play.
Rider senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) converted a ‘four-point play’, his second in as many games, to give Rider a 62-49 lead with 6:04 remaining. Thompson finished with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Rider led 48-44 before Sadler made consecutive three-pointers to lead an 8-0 run, giving the Broncs a 56-44 lead mid-way through the second half.
Saint Peter’s led 37-33 early in the second half before the Broncs went on a 13-3 run, nine points by Myles, to take a 46-40 lead with 14:36 remaining.
Trailing 31-23, Rider out-scored Saint Peter’s 8-0 over the final 2:36 of the first half, five points by Sadler, to tie the score at 31-31 at the half. “The last couple minutes of the first half we picked it up and finally defended,” Baggett said. “That gave us a lift.”
“Our mindset to start the second half was to come out and play the way we played at the end of the first half,” said Myles, who has scored 59 points over his last three games.
Saint Peter’s used an 11-3 run, six points by sophomore guard Desi Washington, to take a 31-23 lead. “We got off a little slow,” Baggett said, “slower than I would have liked. We weren’t playing defense the way we are used to.”
Washington finished with eight points.
Senior guard Yvon Raymond led Saint Peter’s with nine points.
Rider junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Rider defeated Saint Peter’s 66-54 on January 17 in Jersey City. Rider has now won 13 of the last 16 meetings with Saint Peter’s, including the last five. Since joining the MAAC Rider is 24-14 against Saint Peter’s.
Saint Peter’s was one of the original members of the MAAC (1981-82). The Peacocks have won three MAAC Championship Tournaments (2011, 1995, 1991) and finished runner-up four times (2006, 1999, 1989, 1982).
At half time 227 student-athletes were honored for their high grade point averages as part of Academic Achievement Night, including three basketball players; bronze medal award winning freshman Myles Melville (Plano, Texas) and freshman Derrick Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), and a gold medal award winner, sophomore Emerson Bursis (Scotrun, PA/Pocono Mountain East).
The Father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, once wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
The Peacocks came to Alumni Gym Thursday looking for their first MAAC road win, not their first love, and found neither.
Rider hosts Marist Sunday at 4pm in a MAAC game broadcast on ESPN3. “I’m concerned,” Baggett said. “If we want to get to the top we have to start separating ourselves. Marist is playing really well after beating Iona and Loyola. They are playing with confidence right now. If we don’t start the game the right way and play for 40 minutes anything can happen.”