Fairfield 65, Rider 52
Men's College Basketball
Fairfield University 65, Rider University 52
LAWRENCEVILLE- New Jersey recently had a six-day hunting season for deer.
On Sunday, Rider had a Stag in its sights but let it get away. Rather, the Broncs threw it away.
Rider held a 13-point lead late in the first half but committed 30 turnovers, losing a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game to the Fairfield Stags Sunday afternoon.
"I have no answers today," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. "We were so out of sync, just bad all the way around."
Nine different Broncs scored but the leading scorers, senior point guard Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) and freshman guard Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody), each scored just 10 points. For Sadler, who also added four rebounds, it was a career-high in scoring.
Fairfield (5-5, 1-1 MAAC) led 48-44 before out-scoring Rider 14-5, seven points by forward Maurice Barrow, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"We got a win against a good team," said Fairfield head coach Sydney Johnson. "We knew we'd be up against it today."
Also for Fairfield guard Colin Nickerson added 13 points, five rebounds and four steals, while guard Derek Needham added 12 points and four assists.
The game featured 53 turnovers, including 30 by Rider (6-5, 1-1 MAAC). "That set the game back," Baggett said. "I've never seen anything like it. It was like we had never practiced, like it was our first day."
"We were careless with the ball," Johnson said, 'but I felt our defense was locked in, causing all of those turnovers."
"They put some pressure on us," Baggett said, 'but for the most part I felt the turnovers were self-inflicted. They were just bad turnovers."
The Stags out-scored Rider 16-1 to start the second half, seven points by Nickerson, to take a 45-34 lead with 14:36 left to play.
Rider went on a 10-3 run, four points by senior Dera Nd-Ezuma (Nigeria/Life Center Academy), to cut the lead to 48-44 with 11:04 remaining, but that was as close as the Broncs could get.
Nd-Ezuma finished with eight points and eight rebounds, along with three blocks and a pair of steals.
Fairfield used a 14-4 run late in the first half, five points by Justin Jenkins, to cut the lead to 30-29, and Rider led 33-29 at intermission. Jenkins finished with seven points in eight minutes off the bench.
Trailing 11-7, Rider went on a 17-0 run, five points by junior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy), to take a 24-11 lead with 5:20 left in the first half, holding Fairfield scoreless for 7:24.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Rider. "I felt we had some momentum coming off two big wins on the road (at Drexel, at Siena), so that made it even more disappointing," Baggett said.
Fairfield ended Rider's season in the 2012 MAAC quarterfinals, the second time the Stags beat Rider last year. Rider defeated Fairfield in the 2012 regular season finale here in Alumni Gym.
Rider is 17-16 vs. Fairfield since joining the MAAC, including 1-1 in postseason.
The Broncs are off for exams before they travel all the way to Princeton (6.4 miles) December 20. "Today was disappointing but I know this team will bounce back," Baggett said. "It will be good to have some time off for finals and to get back and work on some things."