Men's College Basketball
Rider University 72, Siena College 53
LAWRENCEVILLE--Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
"It was good to be home," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
After four straight road losses, the Broncs returned to the friendly confines of Alumni Gymnasium Sunday and with four players scoring in double figures, Rider defeated Siena in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for Rider, and the loss extended Siena's losing streak to 11.
"First and foremost I'm happy to be off this losing streak," Baggett said, "and I'm happy for our guys. They've been battling and competing but we've been coming up short. Today was a great team effort."
Rider (7-9, 2-2 MAAC) out-scored Siena 21-5 to start the second half, eight points by junior Nurideen Lindsey (Philadelphia, PA/Overbrook), to take a 53-31 lead with 12:04 left to play. Lindsey finished with 12 points and five steals. "Nuri played well," Baggett said.
"The game got away from us at the beginning of the second half," said Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro.
Rider led 32-26 at the half on a three-pointer by junior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy) at the buzzer. "That gave them momentum going into the locker room," Buonaguro said.
Trailing 17-12, Rider went on a 15-3 run, six points by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) and five by freshman Khalil Alford (Raleigh, NC/Fishburne Military), to take a 27-20 lead with 3:55 left in the first half.
Myles finished with 14 points and four assists. "We were desperate today," Myles said. "It is a good feeling to get off that streak. Now we need to get it going in the right direction, to build on this."
Myles has seen this before and appears to be a Kelly Clarkson fan, expressing the sentiment 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
"Going through this streak, going through the 1-10 start last year, has made us stronger," Myles said. "In times like this the key is trusting what the coaches tell us and just staying strong, staying with it."
Rider sophomore Junior Fortunat (Montreal, Quebec/Roman Catholic) made six of seven field goals and made Rider's only free throw attempt, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
"Junior had a big game," Baggett said. "He shot the ball well. He comes to work every day, even though he's been struggling lately. I'm happy for him that the results paid off for him today."
"I'm just trying to get better each and every day," Fortunat said in his French Canadian accent. "It's a long season. It helps knowing that the coaches have my back and have confidence in me."
Rider senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) added 11 points and four rebounds. "Jon played well," Baggett said.
Rob Poole led Siena with 22 points and five rebounds.
Rider shot a season-high .534 from the field. "We were down in the 30s for a few games so we've been working on that in practice," Baggett said.
Siena (2-13, 0-4 MAAC) committed 15 turnovers, 10 in the second half. "We got after them in the second half," Baggett said of his pressure defense. "In the first half the tempo was more to their liking so in the second after we got after them."
"Rider's pressure caused many of our turnovers," Buonaguro said. "Rider is a good team with talent. Their record is misleading."
This marked the first time Rider has swept the season series with Siena. The Broncs defeated the Saints 62-56 in Albany December 7. Rider is now 12-20 against Siena in MAAC regular season games.
Rider held Siena forward O.D. Anosike to just three points and eight rebounds in 39 minutes of action. A Preseason First Team All-MAAC selection, Anosike led the nation in rebounding last year and is averaging 13 caroms a game this year along with a team-high 13.7 ppg.
"Rider was really on him," Buonaguro said. "They played O.D. very physical."
"O.D. is a great player," Baggett said. "I didn't realize we would be able to slow him down to that magnitude, but it was great by our guys to do that."
Rider travels to Manhattan Thursday.