Men’s College Basketball
Villanova University 88, Rider University 67
VILLANOVA, PA— December 21 is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, when the sun’s elevation with respect to Earth reaches its lowest level.
December 21 seemed like a very long day for the Rider basketball team, with the elevation of its opponent reaching the highest level.
The Broncs saw their three-game winning streak snapped at eighth ranked Villanova Saturday afternoon.
“I thought Villanova did a really good job of taking us out of some of the things we wanted to accomplish,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. “They are really good and worthy of being ranked eighth.”
For the Wildcats (11-0) Josh Hart scored 19 points and JayVaughn Pinkston added 14.
Villanova out-scored Rider 9-2 to start the second half, seven points by Pinkston, to take a 52-31 lead. Villanova out-scored Rider 8-2 over the final 2:10 of the first half to take a 43-29 lead at the half.
“I was disappointed with the way the game got away from us at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half,” Baggett said. “For the first 17 minutes of the game I felt we played fairly well.”
For Rider (5-5), senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) scored 22 points, making eight of 10 foul shots. Senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added 13 points, making nine of 10 foul shots, and six rebounds.
Rider freshman Jimmie Taylor III (Branford, Fla./Suwannee) compiled 15 points, four assists with just one turnover and three rebounds. “Jimmie, as a freshman, is doing awesome,” Baggett said. “He’s learning and getting better as the year goes on.”
Rider used a 10-2 run, six points by Taylor, to cut the ‘Nova lead to 27-22 with 4:41 left in the first half.
“We didn’t match their energy today,” Taylor said. “We regret not representing ourselves as well as we could have, as well as we should have, today.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an 8-2 lead, six points by James Bell, and led 11-4 five minutes into the game. Bell finished with just eight points.
Bell and Pinkston are combining for 32.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Villanova out-rebounded Rider 37-29, including 22-9 in the first half. “That was disappointing,” Baggett said. “Physically some of our guys got out-matched today. Villanova got a lot of second chances.”
Rider last played Villanova during the 2006-07 season, losing 108-61. Rider lost 86-57 to Villanova during the 2005-06 season. Rider and ‘Nova have now met 24 times since the series began in 1937-38 with Rider winning in 1944-45 and in 1945-46.
“I didn’t want to think about us playing the eighth best team in the country,” Taylor said. “I had to approach it like it is just another game. I couldn’t let all the hype make me nervous.”
In recent years Rider is now 1-5 against national top-20 teams, losing by 21 points to #12 Florida (12/9/11), losing by just eight points to #10 Pittsburgh (11/13/11), losing by nine points to #3 Pittsburgh (12/4/10) and losing by 29 points to #4 Kentucky (11/21/09). Rider defeated #18 Mississippi State by 14 points to begin the 2009-10 season.
“You can learn from every game,” Baggett said. “Obviously we need to work on our blocking out, our rebounding, work on our press.”
Rider returns home to host the University of Pennsylvania December 29. That game will be televised on The Comcast Network.
Now that the Winter Solstice has come, the long winter nights will begin to grow shorter. The Rider Broncs hope the rest of their season goes fast, since time flies when you are having fun.