Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 77, Monmouth University 71 (OT)
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ— Welcome Back Broncs!
The Rider campus welcomed back its resident students from winter recess and the Broncs’ Zoo welcomed back the real men’s basketball team that it knows and loves but hadn’t seen in a while.
Rider has won 164 of the last 228 home games (.720), but on Sunday afternoon the Broncs won in Alumni Gymnasium for the first time since January 2.
“I’m glad we got the win,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett. “We needed a win at home. We didn’t play well the last time we were home.”
Following five road games (2-3) sandwiching a home loss, Rider welcomed back its winning ways.
Senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) scored 21 points, four in overtime, to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win over Monmouth Sunday afternoon.
Stewart made two foul shots with 42 seconds remaining in overtime to give Rider a 73-68 lead.
Sophomore Shawn Valentine (Sicklerville, NJ/Phelps) made two foul shots with 10.6 seconds left to give Rider a 75-71 lead. Valentine had missed his previous two foul shots just 50 seconds earlier. “You just have to step up to the line with confidence,” said Valentine, who finished with two points and four rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.
“I’ll say this about Shawn,” Baggett said, “he has a short-term memory. He missed two and he stepped up and made two big ones. He commits a turnover but comes back and makes something happen with a play.”
Rider senior Tommy Pereira (Nottingham, England/Canarias Basketball Academy) scored a career-high 20 points, making a career-high six of seven three-pointers. “I couldn’t have done that without my teammates finding me,” Pereira said.
“They found him like a veteran team does,” said Monmouth coach King Rice, who has no seniors and 14 first or second-year players. “Take your hat off to Rider. We had our chances but Rider got it done.”
“Tommy’s been hitting shots in practice all week,” Baggett said. “I can tell when he has that bounce in his step, it’s going to be a game for him to make some big-time shots.”
Monmouth’s Justin Robinson banked a three-point field goal with 1.8 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 64-64, the first tie of the game. Robinson finished with nine points and three assists. “We didn’t execute down the stretch,” Baggett said. "We wanted to foul down the end so they couldn’t tie it with a three but we didn’t get the foul.”
Rider (10-9, 6-4 MAAC) never trailed in the game. The Broncs made their final six foul shots of the game after a two for 10 stretch from the line to end regulation and start overtime. For the game, Rider shot just .571 from the free throw line. “We kept our composure and finally made some free throws,” Baggett said of the overtime period.
“We don’t miss (from the foul line) that often,” said Stewart, who was four for six form the line, “so on nights like tonight it is frustrating." Rider came into the game leading the MAAC in free throw percentage (.754). "I think we let it (missing foul shots) get into our heads. We’d miss one and then we’d miss the next one.”
Monmouth (10-11, 4-6 MAAC) trailed 59-48 before out-scoring Rider 9-1 to cut the lead to 60-57 with 1:47 left in regulation.
With the win Rider sweeps the home and home series with Monmouth this year. The win snapped Monmouth’s two-game winning streak.
Rider went on a 9-2 run on three three-pointers by Pereira, to take a 50-39 lead with 11:15 remaining in the second half.
Monmouth used a 17-4 run to start the second half, eight points by Collin Stewart, to cut the Rider lead to 41-37 with 12:36 left to play. Stewart finished with 12 points off the bench.
Rider led 37-20 at the half. “We played very well for the first half,” Baggett said, “then we self-imploded.”
Holding a 14-9 lead, Rider out-scored Monmouth 17-4, eight points by Pereira, to take a 31-13 lead with 4:56 left in the first half.
Rider scored the first seven points of the game, five by Stewart, and Rider led 14-4 after seven minutes of play.
Sunday’s game was part of the Hourglass Rivalry. Since Saint Peter’s, Monmouth and Rider are all about an hour from each other, the three-way rivalry between the NJ MAAC teams called the HourGlass was established this year. Similar to the MAAC’s Commissioner Cup, the annual winner of the HourGlass will be decided by the competition of all sports between the three.
To date Rider is 9-7-1 in the Hourglass Rivalry, while Monmouth is 8-6 and Saint Peter’s is 4-9-2.
Also for Rider, senior Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech) added 12 points, six assists and four rebounds, while sophomore Zedric Sadler (Detroit, Mich/Cody) added eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals to go with his four points.
Monmouth is in its first season in the MAAC.
Rider and Monmouth were Northeast Conference rivals for five years in the 1990s. Rider defeated Monmouth in the 1994 NEC Title Game at Rider and lost the 1996 Title Game at Monmouth.
Rider is 14-4 vs. Monmouth since the Broncs left the NEC. Rider has won the last eight games against Monmouth and 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Hawks. The Broncs and Hawks have now met 40 times since the series began in 1974-75 with Rider winning 25. The last time Monmouth beat Rider was during the 2006-07 season (67-66).
For the 1970s Welcome Back Kotter TV show, John Sebastian sang; “Welcome Back, your dreams were your ticket out.”
The dreams of Bronc fans came true when they bought their ticket in, to the game on Sunday.
The Broncs travel to Saint Peter’s for a 7pm ESPN3 game Friday, January 31.