Men's College Basketball
Rider University 66, Saint Peter's University 54
JERSEY CITY- Some 2,000 feet away from Saint Peter's campus stand two very large feet. They belong to a robed woman representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. A broken chain lies at her feet and the right foot is raised, showing the woman is depicted as moving forward.
Thursday night the Broncs broke the chains of Saint Peter's defense and were free to rebound and make three-pointers, moving forward in the season with a fourth consecutive win.
"Just an overall team effort," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett."
Making his first collegiate start, junior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy) compiled a career-high 17 points, making five three-pointers to lead Rider to victory over Saint Peter's in the National MAAC Game of the Week, broadcast on ESPN3.
"Guys like Tommy Pereira stepped up tonight," Baggett said. "He's a smart player. I didn't hesitate at all to put him in the line-up tonight."
"Coach called my name (put in starting line-up) for the first time in my career so I felt I had to contribute," Pereira said in his strong, British accent. "I played to the best of my ability and was very happy with the way it played out."
Pereira made five of nine three-pointers. "I wanted to give the team a lift," Pereira said. "I got my shot going and that was it."
"When he's open he can really knock down the shots," Baggett said. "We see it every day."
The Broncs out-rebounded Saint Peter's 35-20. "Our guys understand that if we are going to be in the game, rebounds is one of the areas we need to concentrate on," Baggett said.
The victory was the fourth in a row for Rider (10-9, 5-2 MAAC) this season and the fourth in a row over Saint Peter's (6-11, 1-6 MAAC).
Holding a 47-43 lead, Rider out-scored Saint Peter's 10-2, three points each by junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) and junior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), to take a 57-45 lead with 3:30 remaining.
Myles finished with 12 points, while Stewart finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Stewart moved into 20th on Rider's all-time rebound list with 578 career caroms.
Trailing 39-37, Rider went on a 9-0 run, six points by Pereira, to take a 46-39 lead with 10:44 left to play.
Rider led 30-27 at the half.
An offensive rebound and dunk by freshman Shawn Valentine (Sicklerville, NJ/Phelps) with 4:10 left in the first half tied the score at 23-23. An alley-oop dunk by Myles tied the score at 25-25 with 3:12 left, and a three-pointer by Pereira gave Rider its first lead, 28-27 with 2:10 left in the half.
Valentine finished with five points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes off the bench.
Trailing 17-8, Rider scored eight straight points, six by senior Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones), to cut the lead to 17-16 with 8:00 left in the first half. Thompson finished with 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Saint Peter's jumped out to a 7-0 lead, five points by Chris Burke, who finished with 11 points. "Our guys were trying to feel them out early on," Baggett said. "We knew Saint Peter's would come out and compete hard."
The last time Rider won four in a row was when Rider won the final five games of the 2010-11 regular season and a MAAC Tournament game for a six-game winning streak. "We're feeling good right now," Pereira said.
The Peacocks have now lost their last five games and are 3-6 at home in the Yanitelli Center.
Rider has now won 12 of the last 15 meetings with Saint Peter's. Since joining the MAAC Rider is 23-14 against the Peacocks.
The Broncs were without the services of junior guard Nurideen Lindsey (Philadelphia, PA/Overbrook), who is out with a concussion suffered in practice. Lindsey started Rider's first 18 games and averages 10.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Rider returns home to host Iona Sunday at 2pm. "This is going to be a tough one," Baggett said. "Iona has a lot of players who can really score."
The Broncs were able to control their own actions on the court Thursday night. The very definition of liberty.