Broncs sent home, lose 50-48 in quarterfinal

By Benjamin Shinault

For a second consecutive year, Rider men’s basketball was taken down by the Saint Peter’s Peacocks in the quarterfinal round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. This time around, the Broncs lost a defensive slugfest 50-48 down in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on March 14.

Coming into the late-night showdown between the two in-state rivals, the Broncs, who were on a seven-game win streak, knew what the Peacocks were going to throw at them defensively. Saint Peter’s held senior guard Allen Powell to zero points and only allowed senior forward Mervin James to accumulate 17 points, with most of them coming in the late stages after Rider stormed back from a 14-point deficit.

Rider came out cold with it only accumulating 18 points in the first half and knocking down eight of their 30 first-half shot attempts. At the end of the game, the Broncs were only able to sink two 3-pointers out of their 15 attempts. 

“We  played out of character tonight, we did a lot of things uncharacteristically,” Head Coach Kevin Baggett said in the post game presser. “That wasn’t us.”

One of the biggest storylines that emerged from the loss was the fact that the Broncs didn’t lead at any point. The game was knotted up at the beginning but the Broncs trailed the whole way. Rider was able to storm all the way back from a 14-point deficit off the heels of James, graduate student guard T.J. Weeks Jr., who finished with 10 points and senior forward Tariq Ingraham, who ended his Rider career with 11 points and six rebounds. It just was not  enough for Rider as it struggled to get stops, having a hard time not sending the Peacocks to the charity stripe. The Broncs ended the grueling matchup with 27 total free throw attempts allowed.

James came through for Rider late in the game, finishing with a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds, but he now walks away from Rider basketball with a loss hanging over his head.

“The last few years he helped me develop my game … the last few years at Rider have been great to me,” James said.

With the loss, the Broncs have failed to advance to the semifinal round of the MAAC Tournament since the 2022 season when they pulled off an upset of top-seeded Iona. With another season gone, Baggett and Rider now look forward to a fresh start.

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