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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Friday, December 23, 2011

Brandon Penn matches career-high 26 points to lead Rider over Monmouth

WEST LONG BRANCH — Even in the midst of the tough start to this season, the Rider men’s basketball team has been able to count on Brandon Penn.

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. 

“I feel good about us right now,” Penn said. “We’re starting to get a good rhythm and hopefully we can keep it going after the break.”

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.

“He was here. He wanted to play before he went home,” Rice said. “They’re 3-10, we’re 2-10 and when your record looks like this, you either say, ‘I’m going to be a man and fight,’ or, ‘I’m going to run like a little boy.’ And tonight, he was a man and he fought, and we ran like little boys.”

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