Broncs roll, defeat Georgian Court 75-53

By Benjamin Shinault

THE ever-iconic sounds of the Rider Pep Band and the occasional echo of trash talk found its home once again in Alumni Gym as Rider tamed the Georgian Court Lions, 75-53.

On Oct. 28, Rider men’s basketball opened up its season on Homecoming Weekend with an exhibition matchup against the Georgian Court Lions, a Division II program from Lakewood, New Jersey.

For the Broncs, it was their first opportunity to play around with the starting lineup and take a peek at some potential difference-makers on the bench. 

Head Coach Kevin Baggett sent out a starting five of senior guard Allen Powell, graduate student guard T.J. Weeks, senior guard Corey McKeithan, senior forward Mervin James and senior forward Tariq Ingraham.

The scoring started with a beautiful floater from Weeks that found itself in the bottom of the net, his first in cranberry. 

“It was great to see all the fans out there and listening to them and I think that’s what caused all the pre-game jitters,” Weeks said with a laugh. “But once you get the first bucket and first stop … it’ll be tough for [Georgian Court] to stay with you the whole game.” 

McKeithan, a Rider retuner, was ready to make his way back onto the court for yet another season.

“The vibes were great for us and I felt it as soon as we stepped out,” said McKeithan with a grin. “We just looked around and said, ‘Everybody’s here.’ It’s exciting.”

After the make from Weeks, Georgian Court seemed to stick with the Broncs. Early on in the first quarter when Rider only led by one, Baggett called a timeout and talked with his team.

“Everybody was just getting their jitters out. They haven’t played their first game with the crowd, playing amongst one another … I just told them to settle down and do what we can do. We got better as time went along,” Baggett said.

After that timeout, Rider did not look back as it went on a run, never giving up its lead again. 

A huge contributor to the run and the dominant win was freshman guard DJ Dudley. The San Diego native and McDonald’s All-American finished with 16 points, five rebounds and 5-of-8 shots made from the field. 

Baggett was impressed with Dudley’s head-turning performance, and told fans to not be shocked when they see what Dudley can truly do on the basketball court.

“I’m not surprised. He’s a mature young man and he’s been playing with grown men for a long time, and we knew he was talented when we recruited him,” Baggett said. “He laid it in the first time he touched the ball, so that’s DJ. We see it everyday.”

Going into halftime, the Broncs were up by 24 points and were shooting 43.9% from the field and 35.7% from beyond the arc. Their top scorer heading into the locker room was Powell, who had eight points with six coming from his second home, the 3-point line. 

Defensively, the Broncs held the Lions to only 21 points and a lackluster 28% on field goals. Rider created eight turnovers which transitioned into 11 points. 

Coming out of the locker room, their dominance continued as the Broncs’ lead swelled to 28 and their biggest run was penciled in at 18. Despite all this, Baggett wasn’t entirely impressed with the Broncs’ offensive game, especially his second unit.

“Obviously, it’s still early … guys off the bench have to do a little better job of executing and coming in, protecting the ball, but aside from that we will go back and watch film and get better come Monday.”

The Broncs’ bench unit accounted for 36 of Rider’s 75 total points but the reserves also turned the ball over eight times, which to Baggett, was a glaring problem that needs to be fixed before the next game.

The Broncs’ first regular season game will be on Nov. 6 when they take on Immaculata at 7 p.m. 

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