Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 79, Wagner College 58
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—510 years ago today Nostradamus was born. Even he could not have predicted the start the Rider basketball team would have Saturday.
Rider made seven of its first eight shots of the game, including its first four three-pointers, and led 19-3 in a 21-point win over Wagner.
“We got off to a good start,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. “We’ve been getting off to slow starts in almost every other game this year. Today we got some momentum after making some shots.”
Sophomore Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody) scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Rider to victory over Wagner Saturday afternoon.
Sadler missed all of preseason and the season opener with a knee injury. “I’m about 70 percent now,” Sadler said.
Rider (5-4, 2-0 MAAC) never trailed in the contest.
The victory, Rider’s third in a row and fourth in the last five games, puts the Broncs over the .500 mark for the first time this year. “Certainly happy we got the win today,” Baggett said.
Rider used a 10-1 run, four points by senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), to build the lead back to 18 points, 61-43 with 7:59 remaining. Stewart finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“Danny and Zed played really well and did some really good things,” Baggett said. “They are our leaders.”
The game began with an alley-oop pass from Sadler to Stewart for the dunk that turned the Alumni Gym crowd into the Broncs’ Zoo. “It was a designed play,” said Sadler, who came within one point of a career high. “We wrote it up before the game,” said Stewart, who has compiled 63 points in his last three games. “We were able to execute it.”
“Sometimes players make coaches look good,” Baggett said of the play the two team captains drew up to start the game. “They certainly did a good job of that today.”
Wagner (5-6, 0-0 NEC) out-scored Rider 15-8 to start the second half, with seven different Seahawks scoring, cutting the Bronc lead to 48-37 with 12:12 left to play.
The Broncs jumped out to a 19-3 start, seven points each by Sadler and senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech). Myles finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Rider sophomore Khalil Alford (Raleigh, NC/Fishburne Military) added nine points, three rebounds and three steals in 14 minutes off the bench.
The Broncs led by as many as 22 points in the first half and led 40-22 at half time.
Rider shot 53 percent for the game, including 47 percent from three-pointers.
“Making shots translates to our defense,” Sadler said. “When we’re clicking offensively we’re a real good defensive team. We’re hard to score against.”
Wagner shot 32.8 percent from the field. “Our guys defended really well,” Baggett said. “We took them out of what they were trying to get done. That’s what I’m happy about, the way we defended. I know we can score.”
For Wagner, Kenneth Ortiz and Latif Rivers each compiled 12 points.
Rider out-rebounded Wagner 41-30.
Rider and Wagner are former Northeast Conference rivals. This was the first meeting since Rider left the NEC following the 1996-97 season. Rider now holds a 16-4 advantage in the series that began in 1964-65.
Rider plays at #10 Villanova December 21. Any predictions?