Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 89, Central Connecticut State University 73
NEW BRITAIN, CT— New Britain is known as the “Hardware City” because of its history as a manufacturing center and as the headquarters of Stanley Black & Decker.
If the Broncs can play in Springfield, Mass., site of the MAAC tournament and just 25 miles up the Connecticut River from here, the way they played in New Britain, they just may be bringing home some hardware in March.
“I was really proud of our guys tonight,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, who collects his 20th win at Rider and first of the season.
Sophomore Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody) scored a career-high 21 points and had a career-high five assists to lead Rider to victory at Central Connecticut. “Zedric is a leader,” Baggett said. “That’s why I named him a captain as a sophomore. I know his value on and off the court.”
Sadler missed all of preseason and the first game of the season with a knee injury. “He brings it every night,” Baggett said. “Health-wise he still isn’t where he needs to be but I’m proud as his coach to have him back.”
Holding a 71-60 lead, Rider (1-2) went on a 6-0 run, including back-to-back dunks by senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) and senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), to take a 77-60 lead with 5:02 remaining. Myles finished with 19 points and Stewart finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“Our upperclassmen really helped us solidify this game,” Baggett said.
CCSU (0-4) out-scored Rider 7-3, five points by Cumberlander, to cut the lead to 10, 64-54 midway through the second half. “We got a little bit of a lead and got a little comfortable for a minute,” Baggett said. “They made a run at us but we were resilient.”
After being held scoreless in the first half, Stewart scored 10 of Rider’s first 12 second half points. “Danny came in in the second half and took over,” Baggett said.
Rider led 25-23 before sophomore Khalil Alford (Raleigh, NC/Fishburne Military) made consecutive three-pointers to start a 15-2 run, eight points by Alford, to take a 40-25 lead with 1:59 left in the first half, and the Broncs led 44-28 at the half. “Khalil helped us off the bench in the first half,” Baggett said.
Alford finished with 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Trailing 12-3, Rider went on a 22-6 run, eight points by Sadler, to take a 25-18 lead with 6:45 left in the first half. “We settled down after their good start,” Baggett said. “We started to play better defense.”
CCSU jumped out to a 12-3 lead, six points by Malcolm McMillan, who finished with 11 points. “We didn’t panic when we fell behind early,” Baggett said.
Kyle Vinales, who came into the game averaging 26 points per game, finished with 16.
Rider out-rebounded CCSU 39-32. The Broncs shot 50.9 percent from the field and held CCSU to 42.9 percent.
The last time Rider and Central Connecticut met was a 64-56 Bronc victory in the championship game of the 1997-98 Franklin Life Classic, hosted by the College of Charleston.
Rider and Central Connecticut were East Coast Conference rivals the last two years Rider was in the ECC (1990-91 and 1991-92). The two teams have now met eight times since the series began in 1985-86 with the Broncs winning seven. The lone CCSU win over Rider was in 1990-91 here in New Britain.
Rider plays the home opener November 26 against Albany. “We still have a long way to go but I hope our fans come out Tuesday and support us in the home-opener,” Baggett said. “We’re only going to get better as time goes on.”
Only going to get better, before it is time to play for the hardware.