Men's College Basketball
Canisius College 67, Rider University 50
LAWRENCEVILLE- Rider University's Alumni Gymnasium is affectionately referred to as the Broncs' Zoo, with spirited fans in intimate surroundings supporting the home team to a .720 winning percentage over the last two decades.
For the Canisius College men's basketball team, the 54-year old building, the first ever on Rider's Lawrenceville campus, had been more of a House of Horrors.
Canisius lost 14 of the first 15 games it played in Alumni Gym, before defeating the Broncs Friday night in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.
Friday night it was the Broncs who suffered the horror of losing a conference game in their own house, a game in which they shot 32 percent and were out-rebounded by 20.
"We just didn't play well and we had some guys who didn't show up tonight," said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. "We just didn't do a good job."
The Broncs saw their five-game winning streak come to an end with a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss to Canisius Friday night.
Canisius (13-7, 6-3 MAAC) out-scored Rider 17-4 to start the second half, five points by Jordan Heath, to take a 44-28 lead. Heath finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"Give Canisius credit," Baggett said. "We had no answers for them. They are a good team. I thought our players would get up to play them, but they didn't. We didn't handle it right today."
Junior guard Billy Baron also added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Griffins, who win for just the second time ever in Rider's Alumni Gymnasium.
Canisius scored the final four points of the first period to take a 27-24 lead at half time, the seventh lead change of the first 20 minutes and the final lead change of the game.
Canisius used an 11-2 run, six points by senior guard Isaac Sosa, to take a 21-17 lead with 7:00 left in the first half. Sosa finished with 12 points.
Rider (11-10, 6-3 MAAC) went on an 11-4 run, nine points by junior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy), to take a 15-10 lead mid-way through the first half.
"Having won five games in a row I think we have a target on our backs now," said Pereira, who finished with 11 points, his third consecutive game as Rider's leading scorer in as many starts. "We took them too lightly."
Sophomore Junior Fortunat (Montreal, Quebec/Roman Catholic) compiled eight points, four rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes off the Rider bench.
Junior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) added seven points for Rider
"They out-toughed us tonight,' Baggett said. Canisius out-rebounded Rider 42-22. "We really got shellacked on the boards."
The classic paradox "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" was on display Friday.
Canisius came into the game fifth in the nation with 9.2 three-pointers made per game and 19th in the nation in three point field goal percentage with a MAAC-high 39.0 percent.
Rider came into the game ranked ninth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense with a MAAC-best 27.7 percent, giving up just 4.9 threes per game.
Canisius finished nine for 24 (.375) from beyond the arc for the game.
Since joining the MAAC Rider is 27-8 against Canisius, which includes 3-1 in postseason play. The overall series began in 1929-30 and Rider has won 29 of the 37 meetings.
Rider hosts Manhattan Sunday afternoon. The Broncs defeated Manhattan 69-60 on January 10. "We'll get back to grinding it out tomorrow," Baggett said, "and I expect to see this group respond on Sunday. We need to turn this around and get ready to compete on Sunday."
Rider fans hope the horror show that was Friday night was a one-night only performance.