Men’s College Basketball
Rider University 66, Fairfield University 49
FAIRFIELD, CT—Freshman Novar Gadson (Philadelphia, Pa./John Bartram) scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory at Fairfield Friday night. “Overall just a strong performance tonight in a game we needed,” said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey.
Holding a 45-34 lead, Rider (10-8, 5-3 MAAC) out-scored Fairfield (12-8, 5-4 MAAC) 12-2, eight points by Gadson, to take a 57-36 lead with 7:56 left to play. “I took my focus to another level tonight,” Gadson said. “I knew if we won we’d be near the top of the league and if we lost we’d be in the lower half of the standings. Tonight my shots were just going in.”
“Novar is aggressive,” Dempsey said. “As a coach I have to be careful I don’t curtail that aggressiveness. I have to let him play because he is capable of having big nights and really helping his team. Tonight was one of those nights, on the road against a top team in the league, and he really delivered tonight.”
Trailing 12-11 mid-way through the first half, Rider out-scored Fairfield 21-7, six points each by Gadson and sophomore Mike Ringgold (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic), to take a 32-19 lead at the half. Ringgold finished with eight points, including an alley-oop dunk on a pass from junior Ryan Thompson (Mt. Laurel, N.J./Lenape). “It was a transition play,” said Thompson. “I saw Mike hauling toward the rim and threw it up.” “It was a great pass by Ryan,” Ringgold said.
Rider sophomore Justin Robinson (London, England/Blair Academy) added 15 points, four rebounds and four steals and senior Harris Mansell (Cheltenham, Pa./Cheltenham) added 13 points. “Justin was just terrific tonight,” Dempsey said.
Fairfield won four straight before losing to Siena on Sunday and entered the game in third place in the MAAC, with Rider in fourth place.
The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Broncs. “We knew this was a game we needed to get and we made sure that we got it with our defense,” Dempsey said. The 49 points allowed was a season-best for the Rider defense.
“We lost two in a row and we were down about that,” Thompson said, “but we knew we could turn it around.”
Thompson, the second leading scorer in the MAAC, was held to a season-low four points, but contributed five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. “One of the things about Ryan is that he doesn’t need to score to have a big affect on the game,” Dempsey said. “Playing the point, he really doesn’t look to score. When other guys get it going, Ryan is very content to run the show, play defense and help us on the glass. His numbers didn’t jump off the stat sheet tonight but I thought he had a really good game.”
For Fairfield Anthony Johnson scored 11 points.
Rider defeated Fairfield in the 2008 regular season finale, clinching a first place finish in the MAAC for the third time (2002, 2005). Rider and Fairfield have now met 43 times since the series began in 1951-52, with Rider winning 20. The Broncs have won four of the last five.
The game was played on the Fairfield campus in Alumni Hall, one of just two games the Stags do not play in the Arena at Harbor yards in Bridgeport. “I thought the crowd was raring to go,” Dempsey said. “I thought we took the crowd out of the game with our defense and with good effort.”
The last time Rider played in Alumni Hall was during the 2000-2001 season, with the Broncs winning 64-60. Fairfield defeated American University here in Alumni Hall 82-73.
The Broncs travel to Newark’s Prudential Center to take on the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s in a doubleheader with Seton Hall-Georgetown. The Rider game begins at 4pm. Rider defeated Saint Peter’s at the Prudential Center last year.