Broncs extend skid to three games

By Richard Saile

Rider men’s basketball’s defense struggled the past two games, losing 84-67 at Fairfield on Feb. 8 and at home against Marist 77-62 on Feb. 10. 

The Broncs extended their losing streak to three and fell to 5-8 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

A tale of two halves 

When the Broncs traveled to Connecticut on Feb. 8 to take on the Stags, the Broncs struggled on both ends of the floor to start the game as their offense had multiple sloppy possessions. The mishaps included a couple missed layups and 3-pointers combined with four turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. 

The Stags opened the game on an 11-2 run thanks to Fairfield’s Jalen Leach, who had five of the Stags’ first 11 points. The Broncs had their hands full on the defensive end between Leach and Fairfield’s Caleb Fields, who began the game with 13 points in the first 12 minutes. 

The Broncs, down 10 at one point in the first half, slowly clawed their way back into the game. Over the last six minutes of the first half, the Broncs went on a 17-3 run that gave them the lead going into halftime. 

Senior forward Tariq Ingraham made a pair of free throws and a layup along with two 3-pointers by redshirt senior guard Allen Powell, which helped give the Broncs their first lead of the game and the Broncs went into the locker room up 39-35. 

Coming back, the Broncs and Stags both exchanged baskets for the first six minutes of the second half. Redshirt senior forward Mervin James had six points that helped the Broncs stay close with the Stags as both teams exchanged buckets and lead changes. 

The Stags outscored the Broncs 17-5 for the final six minutes to win the game 84-67. 

“We just started the game plan sluggish,” said Head Coach Kevin Baggett. “We finally started to pick it back up, take the lead. Then the first four minutes (of the second half), again like the last game, you don’t come out ready to play and the next thing you know, they have a lead and they never relinquished the lead.”

Attacked by the Foxes

Two days later, the Broncs returned to Alumni Gym to host the Red Foxes. The first five minutes of the game had players on both teams start the game well, with Ingraham and graduate student guard T.J. Weeks combining for eight of their first 11 points. 

The Red Foxes had an answer with a 12-5 run that put the Broncs in early trouble. The first half for the Broncs was also sloppy with possessions that ended up being missed shots, turnovers or fouls that put the Red Foxes at the free throw line. 

The Broncs cut the lead to five thanks to a pull-up jumper from senior guard Corey McKeithan, but the Broncs struggled to stop the Red Foxes and went into the locker room down 37-29. 

In the first half, the Broncs’ offense had seven turnovers and shot 1-6 from beyond the arc.  

The Red Foxes were up 24 with 11:58 left in the game after the Broncs gave up a 26-10 run, as Rider failed to limit the Marist offense in any area. “We were poor. Too many breakdowns,” Baggett said on the Broncs’ defense. “We were trying to double the post because we’ve been struggling guarding the post. … We left the shooters open. Give them credit for finding guys and making those shots.”

The Broncs eventually cut the Red Foxes lead down to 15 but never got back into the game, as they lost their third straight game and dropped to 8-16 on the season. 

“We still got seven games. We have to learn from this game and we just have to keep playing for the rest of the season,” Ingraham said. 

The Broncs will hit the floor again on Feb. 16 when they host Mount St. Mary’s. The game begins at 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.

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