Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 90, Niagara University 78
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY— Being so close to Canada, many cigar smokers are tempted to cross the Niagara Falls border to buy ‘Cubans.’
The Niagara basketball team came close to defeating the Rider Broncs on Sunday.
Close, but no cigar.
Senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) and sophomore Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody) each scored 20 points to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win at Niagara Sunday afternoon.
The win came less than 48 hours after losing a double overtime game at Canisius. “Good job by our guys to come back after the double overtime game,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. “They did a good job of getting back up for this game.”
“Coach was proud of our effort Friday night,” Myles said, “and he wanted to make sure we carried that level of play over to today.”
One of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, Rider made 10 of 20 three-pointers Sunday. “We moved the ball well today and shot the three,” Baggett said. Rider also had 18 assists.
The top free throw shooting team in the MAAC (.743), Rider made 28 of 34 foul shots Sunday.
Holding a 50-45 lead, Rider (8-7, 4-2 MAAC) went on a 12-3 run, six points by Myles, to take a 62-48 lead with 13:10 left to play. A basket by Myles gave Rider a 66-50 lead with 12:01 left.
Niagara (4-13, 1-5 MAAC) scored seven consecutive points to cut the lead to 81-75 with 1:10 remaining, but that was as close as the Purple Eagles could get.
Rider made nine of 12 foul shots in the final 1:08 of the game, four by Myles and four by Sadler, to preserve the victory. The two combined to make 17 of 20 foul shots in the game.
Rider led 44-41 at the half on 15 points by freshman Jimmie Taylor III (Branford, Fla./Suwannee), who finished with 15. Taylor compiled 24 points in the win over Niagara just 10 days ago.
“Jimmie played well,” Baggett said. “My thing with him is just to be more aggressive. He is very athletic.”
“Coach said for me to just stay aggressive,” said JT3. “I think it is just a coincidence that my last two good games came against them.”
The Broncs jumped out to a 10-4 lead, six points by Sadler.
“We really wanted the Canisius game,” Sadler said. “After we lost that game we decided this was a ‘must win’ for us in order to be a strong contender in the MAAC.”
Also for Rider, senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added 14 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, Fla./Blanche Ely) came in off the bench and compiled six points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks in 18 minutes of action.
“We normally win when we have good, balanced scoring,” Baggett said after the Broncs placed four players in double figures.”” Rider is 6-3 when the Broncs have four players score in double figures. “We have to continue to do that.”
For Niagara, Antoine Mason, the leading scorer in the nation averaging 28.4 points per game, scored 26 on Sunday. Tahjere McCall added 23 for the Purple Eagles, who have now lost four in a row (two to Rider). “McCall really played well today,” Baggett said of the Niagara sophomore guard. “I thought he was going to be a good player and he is.”
The win was the sixth for Rider in the last nine games.
Rider has now won nine of the last 10 games with Niagara and 11 of the last 14 against the Purple Eagles.
The Broncs host Saint Peter’s on Thursday, January 16. Rider fans will be looking to light up the victory cigars after that game. Just not ‘Cubans.’