Rider 65, Manhattan 64
Trailing by a point at Manhattan in the final seconds, Mike Ringgold’s put-back attempt bounced three times on the rim, then finally fell through the cylinder. Antoine Pearson’s 3-point attempt at the other end was way off the mark, and the Broncs escaped Draddy Gym with a 65-64 win and avoided falling to 1-3 in the MAAC.
“We really needed one. I think there was no secret about that,” Rider coach Tommy Dempsey said. “We needed a win. We knew we needed a win. We hadn’t been playing well overall and didn’t particularly play well tonight, but played hard, fought, competed, hung in there and found a way to get it done at the end.”
Justin Robinson (2-for-2 3-point shooting) scored 17 points to lead the Broncs. Novar Gadson had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Ryan Thompson added 12 points in 40 minutes, helping Rider dig out of yet another double-digit deficit.
Rider, which trailed by as many as 30 at Siena and as many as 20 at Loyola, trailed by 16 last night in the final seconds of the first half.
The deficit easily could have been 16 at the break, but Rider scored five points in the final 1.1 seconds of the half. Thompson hit a pair of free throws, and Justin Robinson stole the inbounds pass and banked home a 3 from the left wing at the buzzer, making the score 34-23.
Rider (9-7 overall, 2-2 MAAC) trailed 49-37 with 13 minutes left, but for the first time since the opening week of the season, the Broncs used 3-point shooting to score in bunches.
Rider, 1-for-5 from 3 in the first half, hit 7 of 10 in the second, including one by Brandon Penn that capped a 17-4 run and gave the visitors their first lead at 54-53 with 8:45 left.
Rider’s biggest shot, though, came from underneath the hoop.
Trailing 64-63 with 22.3 seconds left, the Broncs needed a basket to avoid watching their status as league contenders all but completely vanish.
Though Dempsey envisioned Thompson taking the shot, it was Gadson who ended up driving down the right side of the lane and putting up a runner with eight seconds left.
Ringgold, a tenacious force who led the Broncs’ comeback bid Saturday at Loyola, got a hand on the rebound and tipped it toward the rim.
For what seemed like an eternity, the ball bounced up and down on the rim, the difference between victory and defeat being a subtle movement one way or another.
“I was just praying that it would go in,” Ringgold said. “It bounced three or four times.”
Then, the Broncs got a sample of the good fortune that has eluded them over the past month.
“There wasn’t anyone on our team who was thinking it was going in,” Dempsey quipped. “We were all staring at that thing waiting for it to fall off. But fortunately, it fell in, and maybe that was the break that we needed.”