Taylor scores 26, Broncs hold off Kennesaw State, 81-79
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Senior guard Jimmie Taylor (Branford, FL/Suwannee) established new career high’s with 26 points and seven steals as the Rider University men’s basketball team held off Kennesaw State, 81-79, in a Gotham Classic contest Wednesday night at Alumni Gym. Taylor knocked down 6-of-9 three-point attempts as the Broncs improved to 6-3. The Owls fall to 3-7.
Norville Carey (British Virgin Islands/Red Lion Christian [Southern Miss]) added a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, FL/Branche Ely) scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Stevie Jordan (Bensalem, PA/Conwell-Egan/API) dished out a season-high 12 assists, scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and made a pair of steals. Xavier Lundy (Paulsboro, NJ/Paulsboro) also contributed nine points and three assists.
Nick Masterson led Kennesaw State with 19 points, while Kendrick Ray added 18. Johannes Nielsen and James Scott each added 16 points off the bench, while Aubrey Williams scored six points and added a game-high 12 rebounds. The Owls shot 55.0 percent (33-60), but were plagued by 22 turnovers, 13 the direct result of Rider steals.
“I’m certainly not pleased with the way that we played a great deal of the game,” said Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “I’m happy with Jimmie. He made some key shots. I’m counting on our seniors to win the right way. Our defense was terrible. I don’t think I’ve ever coached a team that allowed opponents to shoot 71 percent from three. We’ve got to be able to defend. We’ve really got to be able to compete in our league and it shouldn’t just come down to free throws.”
After Ray opened the scoring with a fast-break lay-up, the Broncs scored nine of the next 11 points on field goals by four different players to open a 9-4 lead. The lead swelled to seven on Lundy’s second three, this time a left-corner trifecta that was interfered with on the rim for a goaltend. With Rider still leading by seven, 18-11, at the 14-minute mark, the Owls responded with 15 of the next 18 points to take a 26-21 lead. Masterson hit a pair of threes in the run.
The KSU lead swelled to six on a Scott fast-break lay-up at the 8:23 mark, before Carey got inside for two and Taylor buried a left-wing three to cut the deficit to one. Five-straight points gave the Broncs the lead, 32-30, when Anthony Durham (Philadelphia, PA/Abington/Putnam Science) capped the spurt with a transition bucket at the 4:41 mark.
Scott and Nielsen each got inside for two points apiece to give the Owls a 34-32 lead, before a 17-footer and a three consecutively for Taylor made it a 37-34 Broncs lead at the half. Taylor led the Broncs with 10 points and three steals at the half, while Jordan dished out seven assists. Nielsen led the Owls with 12 points and five rebounds after 20 minutes, while Masterson added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from long range. The Owls took a 51.7 percent (15-29) to 39.5 percent (15-38) edge from the floor in the first half.
Carey made his first two attempts to begin the second half, followed by a Thomas putback and consecutive Taylor threes as Rider jumped out to its largest lead, 49-39, at the 17:25 mark. The lead remained 10 after a Jordan three at the 15:08 mark. But Kennesaw scored 13 of the next 17 points to close the deficit to 58-57 with 10:35 to play.
Lundy produced the next four points to push the Broncs’ lead back to five, driving and dishing to Thomas for a lay-up before hitting a pair of free throws. The Owls responded with a 10-1 run to retake a 67-63 lead with less than six minutes remaining. Just as quickly, the Broncs answered with an 11-0 run, sparked by a Taylor runner in the lane before Carey scored five straight on a three-point play and a putback. Thomas completed the run with four-straight points, finishing a pair of Jordan feeds to give the Broncs a 74-67 lead with less than three and a half minutes remaining.
Taylor knocked down consecutive contested right wing threes to push the Broncs’ lead to 80-72, before the Owls seven of the next eight points to close to within two, 81-79. With 21.9 seconds left, Ray stole the Broncs’ inbounds pass to give the Owls a shot at a tie or the win on their final possession. But Scott misfired on a three to win it and Thomas rejected Ray’s putback attempt as time expired.
“I just got to keep shooting it. Shooters keep shooting. If you keep shooting, shots are going to fall,” said Taylor.
For the game, the Owls outshot the Broncs, 55.0 percent (33-60) to 43.7 percent (31-71) from the floor and 71.4 percent (10-14) to 43.5 percent (10-23) from long range. Rider shot just 42.9 percent (9-21) from the free-throw line, still better than Kennesaw’s 37.5 percent (3-8). The Owls took a 42-36 edge on the glass and KSU’s bench outscored that of the Broncs, 32-6.
“Jimmie keeps making plays down the stretch,” said Baggett. That’s what seniors are supposed to do. Every time he shoots it, I think it’s going in.”
The Broncs return to action Friday, when they play host to Drexel. Tipoff from Alumni Gym is slated for 7 p.m.
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