Broncs defeat Bobcats, clinch No. 6 seed in MAAC Championships
HAMDEN, CT – Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, FL/Blanche Ely) scored a team-high 21 points and Stevie Jordan (Bensalem, PA/Conwell-Egan/API) added a double-double of 16 points, 13 assists and five steals as the Rider University men’s basketball team defeated Quinnipiac, 99-82, Sunday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center. For the second-straight game, the Broncs (17-14, 10-10 MAAC) outscored their opponent by 20 or more points in the second half, with a 54-31 discrepancy today. Rider also shot higher than 50 percent (58.5%) for the third-straight game and have shot 57.7 percent in the span. The Bobcats finish the regular season at 10-20 (7-13 MAAC).
Rider clinched the No. 6 seed in next week’s MAAC Championships and will face either Marist or Manhattan, depending on the result of Marist’s 4 p.m. tip at Siena. A Red Foxes loss would result in a coin flip to determine the Broncs’ first-round opponent, Thursday night at 9 p.m. in Albany, NY.
Thomas hit 7-of-10 field-goal attempts and all seven of his chances at the free-throw line to finish with 21 points. Norville Carey (British Virgin Islands/Red Lion Christian [Southern Miss]) added 20 points, while Jimmie Taylor (Branford, FL/Suwannee) had 19 points and seven rebounds. Jordan’s 13 assists are a season-high and the most by a Rider player in the last 21 years, as far back as full game-by-game stats are available. Anthony Durham (Philadelphia, PA/Abington/Putnam Science) also added an efficient nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 1-of-2 from long range. Xavier Lundy (Paulsboro, NJ/Paulsboro) joined Jordan with five of the Broncs’ 15 steals.
Mikey Dixon led Quinnipiac with 28 points and five assists, while Andrew Robinson (12), Abdulai Bundu (11), Chaise Daniels (10) and Phil Winston (10) added 10 points apiece for the Bobcats.
“We played a better second half defensively,” said Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “We went in at halftime and challenged these guys. Mikey Dixon had 18 at the half. (Andrew Robinson) had 12. We just needed to play together. Guys needed to talk more on the court. Guys needed to understand what it was we were trying to get done. Once we started to do that and guys started to talk and communicate, good things happened and we ran away with the game.”
The Broncs established an early nine-point lead, 16-7, on a Durham jumper at the 13:19 mark. Thomas scored the Broncs’ first four points and Taylor buried a pair of threes in the early going. The Bobcats gradually whittled away at the Broncs’ lead until Bundu’s jumper at the 6:59 mark gave Quinnipiac a 30-29 lead. The Bobcats’ lead pushed to as many as nine on two Winston free throws with 33 seconds left in the half before Thomas’ three-point play cut the deficit to 51-45 at the half.
Thomas led the Broncs with 15 first-half points on 6-of-8 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. Taylor added 11 points on 4-of-5 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from long range. Jordan contributed eight points and four assists. The Broncs outshot the Bobcats, 58.1 percent (18-31) to 54.3 percent (19-35) from the floor, 50.0 percent (3-6) to 38.5 percent (5-13) from long range and 85.7 percent (6-7) to 80.0 percent (8-10) from the free-throw line. Dixon led Quinnipiac with 18 points on 7-of-9 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. Robinson hit four three-pointers for 12 points.
After Quinnipiac scored four of the first six points of the second half, Rider on a 9-0 run to retake the lead and never trailed again. Tyere Marshall (Philadelphia, PA/Martin Luther King/Putnam Science) scored the final five points of the run on a bucket in the post and a conventional three-point play. Quinnipiac would tie the game twice, but two Carey free throws at the 14:28 mark gave Rider the lead for good and sparked an 8-0 run. Jordan scored a pair of fast-break lay-ups, while Taylor also got inside for two in the run.
The closest Quinnipiac would get the rest of the way was to within six, with Rider building a lead of as many as 18 in the final minute.
“I just think guys are understanding their roles, guys are playing together,” said Baggett. “Stevie’s playing at a high level now that he’s back. I think Kealen Washington-Ives has found it since Stevie was out. I just think the guys want to continue the year.”
For the game, Rider outshot Quinnipiac, 58.5 percent (38-65) to 45.2 percent (28-62) from the floor, 38.5 percent (5-13) to 27.3 percent (6-22) from long range and 90.0 percent (18-20) to 76.9 percent (20-26) from the free-throw line. The Broncs took a 34-31 edge on the glass, a 60-32 advantage in the paint and a 29-8 edge in fast-break points.
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