Broncs trample Immaculata 113-67

By Benjamin Shinault

THE calendar has flipped to November and it’s time for Rider basketball. The men’s team tipped off its season against the Division III Immaculata Mighty Macs on Nov. 6 and made quite the statement in an emphatic 113-67 win.

The Broncs rolled with the same starting five as their exhibition match on Oct. 28 against Georgian Court, which was senior forward Tariq Ingraham, senior guard Allen Powell, senior forward Mervin James, senior guard Corey McKeithan and graduate student guard T.J. Weeks.

The first half started with the Broncs in an early six-point hole as they allowed two wide-open threes to the Macs, which caused a ripple of shouts stemming from the Rider coaching staff.

“We talked about not over-helping, we were over-helping way too much … [Immaculata] was just trying to drive to find the open man, and we gave them opportunities in the first half that they didn’t have as much in the second half,” Head Coach Kevin Baggett said.

With Rider down six, James got the scoring started for the Broncs with a simple layup. James finished the season opener with four rebounds and four assists with a team-leading 18 points as he made 7-of-10 shots from the field.

“I just want to thank my teammates for putting me in the right position to score,” James said. 

James was one of the six Broncs to reach double digits in scoring during the game, as Powell finished with 12 points and knocked down two 3-pointers.

When the score was 22-19 in Rider’s favor, McKeithan and Powell hit back-to-back 3-pointers which sent a jolt of energy through both the fans at Alumni Gym and the Broncs.

“I feel like we were just having fun out there seeing shots go in, it made the team happy,” Powell said. “We were just going off the momentum in the gym. The crowd helped us.”

When the first half came to an end, Rider built itself a 61-38 lead. The team as a whole shot 58.1% from the field and scored most of its points within the paint.

A huge contributor to the lead in the first half was Weeks, who finished with 10 points in the first half along with six rebounds and two assists.

Weeks started off slow as he only knocked down 4-of-11 shots from the field in the first half, but Baggett got into his ear and told him to keep shooting.

“It was frustrating. Baggett brought me over and said, ‘Keep shooting,’ and that’s where I relaxed,” Weeks said. “Even if you’re missing, the next one is going to fall. You’ve got to keep that mentality.”

The second half was more of the same for the Broncs as they started out with a 13-point run. Despite this, Baggett still wanted to see some improvement from the younger Broncs and his defense as a whole.

“To hell with the offense, we gave up way too many points in the first half. That’s got to be our focus,” Baggett said sternly.

Rider’s reserves primarily played in the second half, which allowed the coaching staff and fans to see what the team had behind its starting five. The Broncs’ bench was responsible for 52 of Rider’s total points. Sophomore guard Tyriek Weeks scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds, with junior forward JT Langston Jr. grabbing three rebounds and scoring 10 points on 83% shooting from the field. 

This win marks the first season-opening win for Rider since it took down Coppin State in 2019. 

The Broncs will have their work cut out for them, as the next team on their schedule is nationally ranked Marquette. The Broncs will face the Golden Eagles on Nov. 10 at 8:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted on FS1.

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