Men's College Basketball
Niagara University 84, Rider University 82
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.-- Instant Replay. The Broncs led by 17 early in the second half, trailed by two very late in the second half, and appeared to hit a game-winner at the buzzer, but in an instant, the replay turned the thrill of victory into the agony of defeat. "It was a big range of emotions," said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey. "You think you just won at the buzzer."
Despite a career-high 26 points by senior Novar Gadson (Philadelphia, Pa./John Bartram) and 21 from senior Brandon Penn (Philadelphia, Pa./Paul Robeson), the Broncs lost a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Niagara Saturday afternoon. "I don't want it (controversial replay) to over-shadow the fact that it was the second great game in a week between Rider and Niagara," Dempsey said.
Rider defeated Niagara 74-73 six days ago at Rider. "Rider and Niagara games are always this way," Dempsey said. "They've been some of the best games I've been a part of in all the years I've been in the league. A lot of buzzer-beaters, a lot of classic games. Today was no different."
Junior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) hit a three-point shot at the buzzer that was said to be late after a review of the instant replay system. What the replay system failed to show, however, was that when Rider inbounded the ball to start the final play, the clock started too soon.
"We had Brandon out of bounds, so Jon (Thompson) threw the ball to Brandon so Brandon could inbounds the ball to Jon, but they started the clock," Dempsey said. "You aren't supposed to start the clock until the ball is put inbounds. That probably cost us a second or more. I guess they couldn't get a good view of when the clock started on the inbounds so there was no way to verify that the clock started too soon."
Freshman Juan'ya Green led Niagara with 28 points.
Trailing 76-67, Niagara (11-16, 6-9 MAAC) scored nine consecutive points, three by sophomore guard Marvin Jordan, to tie the score at 76-76 with 2:31 left in regulation. Jordan finished with 18 points off the bench, making six three-pointers.
Niagara's Ali Langford dunked with 3.7 seconds left for the winning basket. "I wanted to make sure Green or Jordan didn't beat us," Dempsey said. "Green made a very mature play on that possession, passing the ball to Langford."
The score was tied at 65-65 when Rider (11-16, 8-7 MAAC) went on an 11-2 run, five points by Gadson and four by Penn, to take a 76-67 lead with 4:26 remaining.
"It was a tough loss," Dempsey said. "One team was going to leave really disappointed and one team was leaving feeling really good. The way the game ended , unfortunately, we're the team leaving disappointed."
Trailing 61-51, Niagara made three consecutive three-pointers, two by Green, to cut the lead to 61-60, and following a Rider basket Green hit another three to tie the score at 63 with 8:14 left to play. "Their best players caught fire," Dempsey said of the Niagara run.
Green's 16.7 ppg scoring average is among the top in the nation among freshmen and he is third in the MAAC in assists
Rider out-scored Niagara 16-2 to start the second half, eight points by Penn, to take a 53-36 lead with 15:53 remaining.
Trailing 22-17, Rider out-scored Niagara 12-3, seven points by sophomore Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech), to take a 29-25 lead with 6:35 left in the first half, and Rider led 37-34 at the half. Myles finished with 11 points.
Gadson scored eight of Rider's first 11 points. "We just have to keep growing," said Gadson, who compiled 45 points and 12 rebounds in the two-game road trip, "coming into practice and working hard."
Sophomore Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added 13 points for Rider.
Red-shirt freshman Antoine Mason, the son of former NBA all-star Anthony Mason, scored 13 points for Niagara.
The norovirus that hit the Rider campus also effected the basketball team, as freshman Junior Fortunat (Quebec, Canada/Roman Catholic) and freshman Eddie Mitchell (Philadelphia, PA/La Salle) fell ill on the bus ride to Buffalo Wednesday night and did not play in either game on the road trip. "We had 18 turnovers, so you certainly would like to play with all your bullets in the gun," Dempsey said, "but that's sports. Players get hurt, they get sick. We are not using that as an excuse."
The Broncs return home to host Iona Wednesday on ESPN3.