Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 70, University at Albany 59
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ— Forgive the Rider Broncs if they feel like a Groucho Marx song, “Hello, I Must Be Going.”
Rider began the season with three away games and following the home opener Tuesday night, the Broncs catch a flight to the west coast first thing Wednesday morning.
Six of the first seven contests this year are on the road.
The Broncs lost to Albany in the 2013-14 home opener. It was just the fourth loss in the last 18 home openers for Rider.
“Give Albany a great deal of credit,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, “but we did a lot of dumb things tonight. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win tonight.”
Rider (1-3) went on a 17-2 run, 10 points by freshman Jimmie Taylor (Branford, Fla./Suwannee), to cut the lead to 49-41 with 7:20 left to play, but that was as close as the Broncs could get. Taylor finished with a career-high 17 points.
“We knew they’d come out and play us tough in the second half,” said Albany head coach Will Brown, the dean of the America East coaches. “Rider has long and athletic players. This was a good win for us.”
For Albany (3-3), Peter Hooley scored 24 points.
Albany jumped out to a 15-4 lead, 11 points by Hooley, and led 32-12 with 6:30 left in the first half. “They came right out and punched us in the face,” Baggett said. “I don’t think we ever recovered. When you dig yourself a hole that deep it is hard to get back into the game.”
“We played a good first half of basketball tonight,” Brown said.
“We played about eight good minutes tonight, maybe,” Baggett said, “in the second half. We’re not consistent right now.”
The Broncs held Albany scoreless over the final 6:30 of the first half and scored the last four points of the half to trail 32-16 at intermission. “We didn’t play with a sense of urgency tonight,” Baggett said. “We missed a lot of lay ups, we struggled to score in that first half.”
The 16 points is the least Rider scored in a half since scoring 14 in a 43-42 loss to Fairfield in the MAAC quarterfinals last year.
“For some reason we had no energy,” said Taylor, Rider’s rookie point guard. “ We didn’t stick to the scouting report, we didn’t do what the coaches asked us to do.”
Rider shot just 27.6 percent in the first half, missing all six three-point attempts.
For the Great Danes, Dave Wiegmann compiled eight points and 14 rebounds, as Albany out-rebounded Rider 35-19. “They out-toughed us tonight,” Baggett said. “They won the 50-50 balls.”
Rider actually out-scored Albany in the second half, 43-38.
Albany was 21 of 22 from the foul line, while Rider was just eight of 12.
Rider senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) added 12 points.
The last time Rider played Albany was in the 2011-12 BracketBuster, a 70-61 Great Dane victory. Rider beat Albany State during the 1957-58 season.
The Great Danes were 9-7 in the America East last year but beat Maine and Stony Brook in the America East tournament to reach the title game, where they beat Vermont at Vermont for the championship. They had lost twice to Vermont during the regular season. In the NCAA tournament #15 Albany lost to #2 Duke 73-61 in Philadelphia.
Rider now travels west to the Silicon Valley to play in the Cable Car Classic, hosted by Santa Clara University. Rider plays Rice on Friday, November 29, while host Santa Clara plays North Dakota State. The consolation and championship games are Saturday.
“We have to play harder, we have to play tougher, we have to play better,” Baggett said, “and we will. We’ll be alright. We just need to get back and show up ready to go right out of the gates.”
Just the fourth loss in the last 18 home openers. As Groucho once said, "Any place I hang my head is home."