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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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broncs return home with win over Canisius

LAWRENCEVILLE – Following a four-game road trip and a stretch of eight out of nine away from Alumni Gymnasium, the Rider men’s basketball team was happy to be home.

So happy that it began a string of seven out of 11 to finish the season in Lawrenceville with an 89-65 thrashing of Canisius Sunday afternoon.

“I felt (being home) gave us a boost,” said coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team has played at home just once since Dec. 14. “My message to the team was just because we were home, it doesn’t guarantee success. But I felt like we were ready. If we played with energy, there was a good chance we would win today.”

Brandon Penn scored 25 points and Novar Gadson had 22 to lead the Broncs, who snapped a three-game losing streak, improving to 7-14 overall and 4-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Rider moved into a fifth-place tie with Niagara, who lost at Manhattan Sunday, while Canisuis (4-15, 1-8) remained in last place.

“Today was so important,” Dempsey said. “I know the schedule, but instead of looking at it as a block, I was focused on today. Today was a must and I think everybody in our locker room knew that.”

The Broncs got off to a 10-0 start and never trailed. Penn and Gadson scored 13 points each in the opening 20 minutes to help Rider build a comfortable 16-point lead with three minutes left until halftime.

The Griffs shot 6 for 32 in the first half and the MAAC’s third leading scorer, Harold Washington, was held to two points on 1 of 5 from the field.

While Canisius couldn’t find the basket, Rider shot 48 percent and got to the free throw line 16 times (making 15). Anthony Myles converted a layup just before time expired in the first half to give the Broncs a 43-22 advantage.

The second half was more of the same.

Gabby Belardo pulled the Griffs within 13 when he connected on a 3-pointer with 13:37 remaining, but Gadson scored four of Rider’s next six points to spark a 20-3 run that Penn punctuated with a 3-pointer at the 5:35 mark.

Penn has scored 173 points over the last 10 games, an average of 17.3 per contest.

“I just got some good looks,” said Penn, who was 7 of 15 from the floor with all seven makes coming from behind the arc. “I just wanted to make sure I made open shots and that I wasn’t taking tough shots.”

For Dempsey, he’s almost automatic right now.

“For a long period here, if he gets an open look, it’s going in,” Dempsey said. “Other teams are conscious of where he is. He has to stay patient because he’s a scorer, and I don’t know if he’s been in a position since his high school career when teams are coming out and trying to limit his shots.”

Gadson’s been an enigma this year. He’s struggled to come off knee surgery and has been ineffective for long stretches this season.

But Sunday he was active, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists to go with his season-high 22 points.

“I’m not playing with enough intensity,” Gadson said. “If we are going to go far, I’m going to have to be a big part of it. I have to be a senior because you don’t get to do it again.”

A little home cooking can always help.

“It felt good to have the crowd back on your side,” Penn said. “I’m glad everybody showed up and was ready to play.”

NOTES: Rider senior guard Jeff Jones did not play (violation of team rules). … Canisius is 1-14 all-time at Alumni Gym. Its lone win came last season. … Harold Washington finished with 22 points to lead the Griffs after scoring two in the first half. He shot 8 for 10 in the second half. …. Rider freshman Emerson Bursis scored his first career points with a jumper late in the second half. Bursis is a walk-on from Scotrun, Pa.

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