Men's College Basketball
Stony Brook University 54, Rider University 46
LAWRENCEVILLE- There was more at stake than simply catching a worm for early birds Rider and Stony Brook Tuesday morning.
The young Broncs, with seven new faces and a new head coach, were attempting to begin the season 2-0 for the first time since 2009-10 while pursuing their goal of daily improvement.
The Seawolves were attempting to begin the season 3-0 for the first time since 2009-10.
Playing at 6am in front of a national television audience as part of the ESPN Tip Off Marathon, Stony Brook held Rider to 30 percent shooting from the field and improved to 3-0 on the season with a victory at Rider.
"It was a tough game in a great environment," said Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell, who is now 2-0 in 6am ESPN games.
"Give credit to Stony Brook," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, who saw his Broncs fall to 0-2 in 6am ESPN contests. "Those guys are good and they played really well today. They defended and had us going through some offensive lulls. My biggest disappointment from this game is that we got just seven points from our three big guys. You aren't going to win many games if you can't score inside."
With the score tied at 41-41, Stony Brook (3-0) out-scored Rider 13-5 over the final 3:52, six points by Dave Coley. "We won because we stopped them at the end," Pikiell said.
Coley finished with 12 points, as did teammate Anthony Jackson.
"Rider is much better this year," Coley said. Last year the Seawolves defeated Rider 79-62 on Long Island.
Trailing 37-26, Rider (1-1) went on a 15-4 run, nine points by junior Nurideen Lindsey (Philadelphia, PA/Overbrook), to tie the score at 41-41 with 4:08 left to play. "We put ourselves in position to win," Baggett said, "we just came up short. I'm proud of the guys, the way they battled."
Lindsey finished with a game-high 17 points, 15 coming in the second half. "Nuri is an experienced player," Baggett said. "He's a tough Philadelphia kid and his will to win is unbelievable."
"Rider is a good team," Pikiell said. "They can play."
Rider led 17-11 before Stony Brook out-scored the Broncs 17-0, eight points by Tommy Brenton, to take a 28-17 lead with 1:10 left in the first half, and the Seawolves led at 28-21 intermission. Brenton finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
SBU held Rider scoreless for almost 10 minutes in the first half as it built the 11-point lead.
Trailing 11-10, Rider went on a 7-0 run, five points by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech), to take a 17-11 lead mid-way through the first half. Myles finished with 14 points. "Anthony made some big-time plays that got the crowd back into it," Lindsey said.
Stony Brook out-rebounded Rider 35-27.
The Broncs were just eight for 14 from the foul line, compared to Stony Brook's 19 of 24 foul shots. "Free throws are important," Baggett said, "and today it was the difference in the game. They made theirs and we didn't."
Seven of the Seawolves' final 13 points came from the foul line.
Rider senior point guard Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) added eight points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. "Jon did a great job of picking us up after we had that long scoreless stretch," Lindsey said of his backcourt mate.
Jameel Warney added nine points and nine rebounds for Stony Brook.
Rider caused 21 Stony Brook turnovers. "We defended, so we gave ourselves a chance to win today," Baggett said.
It was the second 6am game for both teams. Rider hosted Drexel in last year's sunrise showdown and Stony Brook played Monmouth at 6am the year before.
"I am appreciative of ESPN for having us on for a second time in the past two years," Baggett said. "That was an enjoyable game. If they ask us again we will absolutely play at 6am again next year."
The Seawolves enjoyed their most successful season on the Division I level last year, winning the America East regular season title (14-2 conference mark) and advancing to the NIT, finishing 22-10. It was the second regular season title in three years for Stony Brook.
Rider and Stony Brook first met in 1970-71. The Broncs won the first three meetings with Stony Brook and went from 2000-01 until last year without meeting.
"We're going to face some adversity," Baggett said. "We knew we weren't going to win every game this year. As long as we're getting better every game and we're doing the things we need to do to put ourselves in position to win."
Rider hosts cross-state rival Monmouth Saturday afternoon at 3pm. "We'll go back to the drawing board and get ready for Monmouth," Baggett said. "We'll get better, I know that."
Stony Brook might have caught the worm on Tuesday, but as the Broncs' season progresses, Coach Baggett feels that, indeed, The worm will turn.