Men's College Basketball
Rider University 64, Loyola University MD 57
LAWRENCEVILLE- Parting is such sweet sorrow.
The Broncs unceremoniously bid adieu to Loyola as a conference rival, defeating the Greyhounds in their final Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Rider.
Senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) and junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) each scored 23 points and combined for 13 rebounds to lead Rider Sunday afternoon. "Those two are my leaders," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
Rider (9-9, 4-2 MAAC) made seven of eight foul shots in the final 1:49, four by Thompson, to preserve the victory. "We dropped a few in a row and we needed to turn that streak in the other direction," said Thompson, who compiled a career high in points and now has 326 career assists, 10th most ever at Rider. "We're still building. We need to keep this streak going."
The victory was the third in a row for Rider and snapped a three-game winning streak for Loyola (12-6, 4-2 MAAC), the defending MAAC champion and preseason favorite.
"It was a hard-fought game," Baggett said, "and we all knew it would be. Loyola's tough and I thought our guys responded well."
Loyola announced during the summer that it accepted an offer to join the Patriot League beginning in July of 2013.
Fans in Alumni Gymnasium are sorry to see Loyola leave. Since joining the MAAC Rider is 13-3 against Loyola in The Broncs' Zoo.
Holding a 42-40 lead, Rider went on an 11-2 run, five points by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech), to take a 53-42 lead with 6:30 remaining. Myles finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Trailing 53-42, Loyola went on an 8-0 run, four points by Jordan Latham, to cut the lead to 53-50 with 2:08 left to play. Loyola cut the lead to 54-52 with 1:36 remaining but that was as close as the Greyhounds could get. Latham finished with six points off the bench. "Loyola is a veteran team," Baggett said. "They were in the NCAA tournament last year. They are very resilient."
Rider out-scored Loyola 13-5 to start the second half, nine points by Thompson, to take a 40-36 lead with 13:31 left to play. "When Jon is playing well," teammate Stewart said, "it is fun to watch, and fun to play alongside him."
That was the fourth and final lead change of the game. There were also eight ties.
Loyola out-scored Rider 10-3 over the final 3:00 of the first half, eight points by Robert Olson, to take a 31-27 lead at the half. Olson finished with 25 points.
Rider held MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Erik Etherly to just nine points and six rebounds. "That was a key for us," Baggett said. "We understood their personnel and who were needed to stop. Olson scored a lot but took 22 shots to do it. We did a good job on Etherly, who is a very good player."
Trailing 14-10, Rider out-scored Loyola 12-4, four points by Thompson, to take a 22-18 lead with 6:30 left to play in the first half.
Rider lost at Loyola on January 4. The Broncs have now won four of their last six meetings with Loyola.
Rider and Loyola have now met 41 times since the series began in 1931-32, with Rider winning 24. Since Rider joined the MAAC the Broncs are 19-14 against the Greyhounds, including 1-0 in postseason.
Rider is one of just four teams in the MAAC to have four conference wins and travels to Saint Peter's for an 8:30pm game Thursday. "We're just taking one game at a time," Baggett said, possibly coining a new phrase. "This is a long season so we're not looking ahead, not looking at the standings."