Brandon Penn matches career-high 26 points to lead Rider over Monmouth
The senior matched a career-high 26 points Thursday night as the Broncs won their second straight and fifth consecutive over in-state rival Monmouth with a 74-62 victory at the Multipurpose Activities Center.
“It’s great to see Brandon be rewarded with the way he’s been playing,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “He’s been a really underrated player in our program, and he’s kind of been in the shadows of some other really good players. I think he’s really stepped up through this struggle.”
Everybody saw Penn Thursday night. His 26 points — he hit the 26-point mark Dec. 2 of last year at Manhattan — came on a career-best eight made field goals (8 for 16), six of which came from behind the arc.
He also set a career high in rebounds with 15.
“There wasn’t really a different feeling about the game,” Penn said. “I just came in like it was any other game. I just made more shots.”
The Broncs (3-10) didn’t wilt when Monmouth scored five straight points to cut the deficit to 64-60 with 3:43 left, instead, coming right back within seconds to increase the lead back to six after Eddie Mitchell and Danny Stewart connected on an alley-oop.
“We’ve been having trouble closing games out,” Penn said. “Since we were up, we didn’t want to be complacent and slow it down, so we just kept pushing it.”
The defense took care of the rest.
After getting within 64-60, the Hawks (2-10) made only one field goal the rest of the way.
Rider even came back on the boards, out-rebounding Monmouth for the game, 38-34, making it the first time all year that it has grabbed more boards than the opponent.
In the first half, it was the Hawks’ offensive rebounding that allowed them to stay in the game. They grabbed 11 boards on the offensive glass that led to 10 second-chance points.
The Broncs led 31-25 at intermission despite going 7:01 without scoring in the first half.
Penn hit a trio of 3-pointers with his first one giving Rider a 7-2 lead and forcing Monmouth into an early timeout. But the Hawks responded with eight straight points over the next 7:01 to take a 10-7 lead until Danny Stewart finally broke the scoring drought with a layup.
Stewart was the only other Rider player in double figures with 17 points.
Ed Waite had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Monmouth.
Hawks coach King Rice wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
“Our players weren’t here tonight,” Rice said. “They had already gone on break. That’s what happens — finals come, kids want to go home, they leave before they’re supposed to and you get beat.”
Penn didn’t take an early vacation.