Men's College Basketball
Rider University 75 Drexel University 66
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.--Led by 21 points from junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, Pa./Neumann-Goretti), the Rider University men's basketball team won in come from behind fashion 75-66 on Saturday at Drexel University.
Stewart was seven for 10 from the field, pulled down seven rebounds and went seven for seven from the free throw line while dishing out three assists.
"Danny was awesome," said head coach Kevin Baggett. "He is growing up and we have to feed him the ball. We can count on that when we throw it in to him that he is going to score. We needed to score inside to have a chance to win today and we did that."
Rider held a 34-24 advantage on points in the paint.
"I like coming home and playing in Philadelphia," said Stewart who attended Neumann-Goretti. "A lot of family and friends can come watch me play. Their inside guys (Drexel) may be bigger but I think I was a little quicker and I just needed to find ways to get to the basket and my teammates got me the ball."
Trailing 46-37 with 13:27 left in the game, Rider (5-4) went on a 14-0 run, five points by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, Del./Poly-Tech) as the Broncs took a 51-46 lead with 8:57 remaining. Myles had seven points, eight rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes.
"I challenged the guys after the La Salle game," said Baggett. "We spent a lot of time watching film and we just needed a win like this to get over the hump. We've been in every game and I'm proud of the guys for that but we needed that signature win and we got that today. It was really a team effort from beginning to end."
Trailing 60-54, Drexel (2-5) tied the game at 60 with 4:01 remaining but the Broncs responded with an 11-2 run, four points by senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) to put the game away. Thompson finished with 14 points, four steals, three rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.
"We played more defense, played harder and forced turnovers," Thompson said about the final Rider run. "We sped the game up a little bit."
Rider made nine of 11 foul shots down the stretch and the Broncs were 20-26 (77 percent) from the charity stripe.
Drexel was led by Damion Lee who finished with a career-high 28 points.
Tied at 2-2, Drexel went on a 7-0 run as the Dragons opened up a 9-2 lead with 16:42 left in the first period.
A three-pointer by freshman Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich./Cody) brought Rider to within three (19-16) with 10:10 left in the opening half. Sadler finished eight points in 22 minutes off the bench.
"Our freshmen are starting to come into their own," Baggett said. "They just go out there and compete and don't think of themselves as freshmen."
Stewart stole the ball and raced the length of the court, finishing with a dunk to tie the game at 23 with 7:41 left in the opening period
Drexel responded by scoring eight of the next 10 points and led 31-25 with 4:15 left in the first half.
Rider ended the opening half on a 5-0 run, with three Broncs scoring to cut the Dragon lead to 31-30 at intermission.
Tied at 37, Drexel went on a 9-0 run, seven points by Lee as the Dragons opened up a 46-37 lead with 13:27 left. Lee scored 13 of Drexel's last 15 points of the game.
"I called a timeout and told the guys to stay together," Baggett said about the Rider response to Drexel's 9-0 run. "We knew that Drexel was too good and too well coached not to make a run. We just had to fight and stay together and make our run. We just kept our composure and defended. When we do that, we give ourselves a chance."
Rider forced 16 Dragon turnovers and the Broncs had eight steals in the game.
"We threw the ball right to them on the press," said Drexel head coach James "Bruiser" Flint who is in his 12th season at Drexel. "We turned the ball over and threw it right to them. That's the way we've played all year."
Also for the Broncs, junior transfer and Philadelphia native Nurideen Lindsey (Overbrook) had 12 points, shooting four for six from the field with sophomore Junior Fortunat (Quebec, Canada) adding eight points in 20 minutes off the bench.
Rider shot 25-48 from the field (52 percent) and the Broncs were five for 10 from three-point range.
"We just needed a win to get that bad taste out of our mouth," Baggett added about the team rebounding from the loss at home to La Salle (63-52) on Thursday night. "We thought we had a chance to win that game as well and didn't finish the right way."
Rider and Drexel are former East Coast Conference rivals. The teams have now met 57 times with Rider winning 27. Coming into the game, the Dragons had defeated Rider four straight times including last season in the 6am ESPN Tip Off Marathon in Alumni Gymnasium.
"They've always had offensive players," Flint said about the difference from this year's game and the last several times against Rider. "Kevin (Baggett) has them pressing on defense and that is leading to them (Rider) getting some easier baskets. That was the biggest difference, their emphasis on defense."
Rider opens Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play at Siena on December 7 at 7pm.
"The conference is important but we are more focused on who the next opponent is," said Baggett about the start of MAAC play. "I told the team at the start of the season that if we get better each game, we will be there at the end and we are taking things one game at a time."