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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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gadson lifts Broncs to win over Fairfield; team to meet again in MAAC tourney

LAWRENCEVILLE — At times this season, Tommy Dempsey and Novar Gadson have found themselves at odds.

But if Sunday afternoon was any indication, they might be finding harmony at just the right time.

Gadson finished with 19 points, including Rider’s final eight, complete with a spinning layup with 28.2 seconds remaining to help his team secure a 65-62 victory over Fairfield at Alumni Gymnasium on Senior Day.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” said Gadson, who has struggled at times to regain the form that saw him grab second- team All-League honors after having microfracture surgery on his left knee in the offseason.

“I’ve overcome adversity in my life before,” Gadson said, “and I feel like I can do it again.”

Dempsey cut Gadson’s minutes on various occasions this season trying to let him gain some perspective by watching.

“I knew he was struggling emotionally,” the coach said. “He was fighting himself, fighting his game and fighting himself in his head. I know it wasn’t something that he loved, but I was trying to give him perspective.”

Maybe that is all paying off.

Over his last five games — he didn’t play against Iona because of a violation of team rules — Gadson has averaged 19.6 points.

On Friday, he converted a three-point play to beat Loyola. On Sunday, with the Broncs up one, his layup — after an excellent pass by Brandon Penn — extended their lead from one to three with 28.2 seconds remaining.
“He knows how much I love him,” Dempsey said “We fought through it together and fought each other at times, but here we are. He had a great weekend and ended Senior Day on a great note. He’s playing well at the right time of the year.”

Rider improved to 13-18 overall and 10-8 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, although Dempsey, tongue-in-cheek, points out it should be 11 if it wasn’t for the officiating and timing mistake at Niagara that cost the Broncs a victory.

In the end, that game didn’t make a difference in Rider’s seeding. The Broncs finished fifth, after sweeping the weekend against two teams that came in tied for second, and face a rematch with Fairfield (17-13, 12-6) Saturday at 2:30 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

The only team in the MAAC Rider hasn’t beaten this season is Iona.

“We came out and made a statement,” Gadson said. “We’re still a contender in this league. We’re capable of winning the conference next week”

Jeff Jones finished with 14 points and Jon Thompson added 13.
Rakim Sanders had 17 points and Maurice Barrow had 15 and 16 rebounds for Fairfield.
The Stags played without starting point guard Derek Needham, who didn’t make the trip after suffering a foot injury in Friday’s loss to Iona. Coach Sydney Johnson said he’s still being evaluated and he’ll know more this week. With both teams coming off important games Friday night, the contest had moments when it lacked bite. It came to life in the second half after Rider went up 13 following three free throws by Jones. The Stags fought back with eight straight to get within five and eventually tied the game at 55.
Fairfield hit the boards hard in the second half, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. It had 22 second-chance points in the game, with 14 coming in the final 20 minutes.

Still, Rider never gave up the lead.

Sanders had two chances to tie the game after Gadson’s layup put the Broncs up three but missed on both attempts.

Gadson scored Rider’s final eight points to cap a weekend in which he finally felt like himself.

“This guy is a competitor,” Dempsey said. “He wanted to play, he wanted to be part of this in his senior year and he fought through it. He’s coming along and he’s coming at the right time.”

NOTES: Rider honored its four seniors — Gadson, Penn, Jones and Kevin Noon — before the game. Noon, who spent his first three years as a team manager before being added to the roster as a walk-on, started and played to the first media timeout.

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