Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 71, Fairfield University 62
BRIDGEPORT, CT— Bridgeport’s most famous resident has been circus-promoter and once-mayor P.T. Barnum.
Even Barnum would have thought Saturday’s game was as entertaining as any circus.
Senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) scored 20 points and freshman Jimmie Taylor III (Branford, Fla./Suwannee) added 19 points to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference win at Fairfield Saturday afternoon.
Stewart and Taylor scored all of Rider’s 18 points in the final 7:05 of the game, each scoring nine. “We went to our veteran in Danny and Jimmie was doing a good job being aggressive,” said head coach Kevin Baggett. “Jimmie is no longer a freshman to me.”
“We needed this win,” Taylor said. “Being a freshman I have to show my teammates that they can trust me and now I think they do.”
The victory ended Rider’s three-game losing streak. “Just very happy to get off that three-game skid,” Baggett said.
Trailing 56-53, Rider went on an 11-3 run, seven points by Stewart, to take a 64-59 lead with 3:54 remaining. That was the 14th and final lead change of the game, which also saw nine ties.
Taylor hit a three-point field goal with 2:10 left to give Rider a 67-62 lead. Stewart made 10 of 12 foul shots, including five in the final 5:06.
Rider used it's press more than any other time this year and caused 15 Stag turnovers. Rider scored 27 points off of those turnovers. “We just tried to get them out of their rhythm,” Baggett said. “I saw where our press was bothering them, so we just continued it.”
Stewart was credited with coming up with the strategy to press. “I woke up today and decided I was going to lead this team,” said Stewart. “When we went over the scouting report I said ‘why not jump on them and press the whole game?’ and that’s what we tried to do. We needed this win.”
With the 20 points Stewart now has 1,350 career points, 16th most ever at Rider. His seven rebounds gives him 844, just 30 shy of second on Rider's all-time list.
Also for Rider (13-12, 9-7 MAAC), freshman Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, Fla./Blanche Ely) added 12 points and three blocks.
Rider led 18-17 before Fairfield (5-22, 2-14 MAAC) went on a 14-7 run, all 14 points by the Gilbert brothers (Marcus and Malcolm), to take a 31-25 lead.
A three-point field goal with 1.1 seconds left in the first half by Taylor cut the lead to 31-28 at intermission.
Rider defeated Fairfield 73-65 on February 3 at Rider. The Stags beat Rider four straight times before that Rider win, including two postseason games.
Fairfield is starting four sophomores and a freshman. The team’s only senior, forward Maurice Barrow, is coming in off the bench to average 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds. Saturday Barrow led the Stags with 22 points, while Marcus Gilbert finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
These two teams have now met 55 times since the series began in 1951-52, with Rider winning 25, including nine of the last 17.
Rider is 19-18 against Fairfield since joining the MAAC, including 1-2 in postseason.
Rider returns home to host Iona on ESPNU Friday at 8pm.