Men’s College Basketball (Exhibition)
Rider University 79, E. Stroudsburg University 76
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—Even in exhibition games, it seems whoever wins the first five minutes of the second half wins the game.
Rider scored the first six points of the second half, four by freshman Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, Fla./Blanche Ely), to cut the lead to 45-44 with 15:29 remaining.
“I think we held them scoreless the first five minutes of the second half,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett.
Thomas compiled 23 points and six rebounds and freshman Jimmie Taylor (Suwannee, Fla./Suwannee) added 14 points to lead Rider to an exhibition victory over Division II East Stroudsburg University Saturday afternoon.
“The two freshmen did a really good job,” Baggett said. “It was good for them to get this experience. Kahlil did some really good things. He was able to carry us at some points of the game.”
Rider went on a 9-3 run, four points by Thomas, to take its first lead of the game, 58-57, with 10:36 remaining. “It is good to have a battle in these exhibition games,” Baggett said. “It helps us learn. We have some work to do but I’m certainly proud we were able to pull this game out against a good opponent.”
“I just try to play hard all the time,” said Thomas, who was ranked one of the top 20 players in Florida last year, earning All-Broward County and All-State honors. “Having a tough game like this helps us a lot. We have a great schedule this year so this helps us learn what we need to work on. I need to work on the defensive backboard.”
Taylor stole the ball and scored a layup with 3:15 left to give Rider a 76-75 lead, the seventh and final lead change of the game. “Today gave me a good feeling of what the college game is going to be like,” said Taylor, who was a First Team All-Florida selection last year, averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game.
A three-pointer by Taylor gave Rider a 61-60 lead with 10:09 left to play. A three-pointer by sophomore Shawn Valentine (Sicklerville, NJ/Phelps) gave Rider a 65-63 lead with 7:18 remaining. A dunk by Valentine gave Rider a 69-67 lead with 5:49 remaining.
Valentine finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench.
Rider senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) made two foul shots with 14.3 seconds left for the final score. Myles finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
ESU never trailed in the first half, leading 45-38 at intermission. “I want to give East Stroudsburg a lot of credit,” Baggett said. “They played really well and did a great job of making us guard them.”
The Warriors were led by senior Zechariah Runkle, who compiled 18 points and 10 rebounds, including 13 points and six rebounds in the first half.
Rider cut the lead to one point three times in the first half, 33-32, 37-36 and 39-38.
ESU jumped out to a 7-0 lead and led 26-17 with 8:03 left in the first half.
ESU out-rebounded Rider 43-33. “They hurt us on the glass,” Baggett said.
ESU won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference regular season title last year and is picked to finish second in the PSAC this year behind West Chester.
ESU junior guard Whis Grant, the PSAC East Athlete of the Year in 2013, finished with 15 points. Matt Tobin added 16 points, while Rasheed Moore added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
ESU sophomore Jamal Nwaniemeke (Philadelphia, PA/Conwell-Egan), who played in 13 games for the Broncs last year as a rookie before transferring to Stroudsburg, compiled seven points, three rebounds and two assists.
The Broncs were playing without two of the top returning players, junior Junior Fortunat (Montreal, Quebec/Roman Catholic) and sophomore Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody). Fortunat was out of town at a family funeral and Sadler was injured.
Rider defeated ESU 74-61 in an exhibition game to start the 2011-12 season and beat ESU 69-55 prior to the 2008-09 season. In regular season games, the Broncs and Warriors met 10 times between 1947 and 1987, with Rider winning eight.
Rider is coming off a 19-win season in which the Broncs finished in second place in the MAAC after being picked to finish seventh.
The 2013-14 season begins 11/12/13 at Lehigh, the first of three road games before the home opener November 26 against Albany, the only home game in November.