Broncs push past Monmouth, 93-90, in overtime
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – Freshman Stevie Jordan (Bensalem, PA/Conwell-Egan/API) led the Rider University men’s basketball team with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Broncs pushed past defending MAAC Regular Season Champion and 2016-17 league favorite Monmouth, 93-90, on the road in overtime. With the win over their hOURglass rival, the Broncs improve to 9-5 (2-1 MAAC). The Hawks, the league’s last remaining unbeaten squad, slips to 10-4 (2-1 MAAC). The Broncs improved to 5-0 on the season in games decided by three points or less with the Broncs defending a potential game-winning or tying attempt by the opposition in each of the five.
Jordan hit 7-of-11 shots, including 3-of-4 from long range and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. Kahlil Thomas (Parkway, FL/Blanche Ely) added his league-leading sixth double-double of the year with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while also dishing out a career-high four assists. Jimmie Taylor (Branford, FL/Suwannee) scored all 17 of his points in the second half before fouling out. Taylor was 7-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from long range in the period.
Norville Carey (British Virgin Islands/Red Lion Christian [Southern Miss]) also finished in double figures, scoring six of his 12 points in overtime, including consecutive dunks to give Rider a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Xavier Lundy (Paulsboro, NJ/Paulsboro) added nine points and a career-high 12 rebounds, narrowly missing what would’ve been his first-career double-double. Anthony Durham (Philadelphia, PA/Abington/Putnam Science) also scored a career-high eight points and added two steals.
2016 MAAC Player of the Year Justin Robinson scored a game-high 28 points, but was held to just 7-of-20 shooting from the floor. He made all 11 of his free-throw attempts and dished out a game-high seven assists. Micah Seaborn added 17 points, while Collin Stewart (14) and Je’lon Hornbeak added 10 points apiece for the Hawks.
“It was fun if you’re a fan,” said Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “If you’re a coach on the other end, you’re saying you’ve got to make some free throws and find a way to win, especially when Jimmie and Lundy fouled out. But I’ve seen these guys over four years win games that we weren’t supposed to win, win games like this that were close and I’m watching a senior group that are playing like seniors. These guys just find a way to pick one another up. It’s a fun group to coach. They get along and they continue to bring one another up.”
The Hawks began the game on a 9-0 run and scored 14 of the first 16 points to establish an early lead. But it was all Rider the rest of the half as the Broncs outscored the Hawks, 39-14, the rest of the period. Rider whittled the deficit to four with a 10-2 spurt, including eight points from Jordan. Nine straight points stretched the run to 19-4 and gave the Broncs their first lead of the game with 8:30 left in the half. Durham tied the game with a pair of free throws before Jordan converted a conventional three-point play to give Rider a 21-18 lead.
“Once we made a couple of baskets, we found our way and got back in the game,” said Baggett. “There was no panic by any of us. Again, that’s an experienced group for you that can do that and understand that it’s a long game. There’s going to be highs and lows in the game and our guys endured in this game.”
The run extended to 33-6 on Durham’s three-pointer at the 3:23 mark, giving Rider a 15-point lead. Two Robinson free throws in the final minute made it a 13-point Broncs lead, 41-28, at the half.
For the half, the Broncs outshot the Hawks, 38.7 percent (12-31) to 33.3 percent (11-33) from the floor and limited Monmouth to just 1-for-10 shooting from long range. Jordan led the Broncs with 14 points on 4-for-4 from the floor, 2-for-2 from long range and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line. Thomas added 11 points and six rebounds, while Lunday had five points and seven rebounds at the break. Robinson led Monmouth with nine points and three assists in the first 20 minutes.
The Hawks methodically whittled away at the Broncs lead in the second half, with an 11-2 run cutting it to 58-56 with 9:20 to play. Monmouth got to within one on five occasions. Following the fifth, Jordan knocked down a three to give Rider an 81-77 lead with 24 seconds left.
“In late game situations, I want to be the one to take that shot,” said Jordan.
But a Robinson lay-up and two free throws with 9.9 seconds left tied the game at 81-81. Jordan’s jumper at the buzzer misfired, sending the game to overtime.
Monmouth took its first lead since the 8:54 mark of the first half on a pair of Austin Tilghman free throws to open the overtime scoring. Thomas countered with a conventional three-point play, before Seaborn got inside for two and an 85-84 lead with 2:34 left in overtime. But consecutive back cuts by Carey resulted in dunks and a lead the Broncs wouldn’t relinquish. Thomas completed a 6-0 run with a dunk of his own. Monmouth pulled to within two on a Robinson three with 23 seconds remaining, but Thomas made 1-of-2 free throws on the other end and the Broncs successfully defending a pair of three-point attempts by Robinson and Seaborn to secure the victory.
“We’ve won a lot of close games, but a game like this against a team like Monmouth. And give King Rice and his team all the credit in the world. Those guys are really good. For us to be able to finally get a win and the way we lost to them last year, to be able to win this game… it’s one game, but it’s also an important game for us to know that we can beat a team like Monmouth in our league.”
For the game, the Broncs outshot the Hawks, 45.2 percent (33-73) to 38.9 percent (28-72) from the floor and 38.1 percent (8-21) to 30.8 percent (8-26) from long range. Rider also owned a 50-40 advantage on the glass, resulting in a 22-10 edge in second-chance points. Monmouth took an 86.7 percent (26-30) to 73.1 percent (19-26) advantage at the free-throw line and enjoyed a 37-16 discrepancy in bench scoring and an 18-0 edge in fast-break points.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of since I’ve been here,” said Taylor. “Both teams competed. And I like the way we competed all the way throughout the game. It was up and down, but we stayed together and played hard for 40 minutes and overtime. It was just a fun game to play in.”
The Broncs return to action on Friday, Jan. 6, when they travel to Marist. Tipoff from McCann Arena is slated for 7 p.m.
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