GAMEDAY: Rider, Fairfield meet in possible tourney preview
When: Sunday, Alumni Gymnasium, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3.com, 107.7 FM The Bronc.
Last time out: Rider def., Loyola, 83-79; Fairfield lost to Iona, 77-72.
Background: Rider won’t have to sweat anything out Sunday afternoon.
With their victory over Loyola Friday, the Broncs are locked into fifth place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference no matter the outcome of the Fairfield game.
This could, however, be a preview a first round MAAC tournament game next Saturday in Springfield, Mass.
After falling to Iona Friday, the Stags slipped back into a three-way tie with Loyola and Manhattan for second place.
The Gaels won the regular-season championship outright.
“It’s nice that we’re not playing (next) Friday,” said coach Tommy Dempsey. “I’d be lying if I said anything different. We have talent and we have a lot of different guys that can step up and make plays if we play team basketball. We can compete with the best teams in the league and we have another opportunity to prove that Sunday.”
Seniors Novar Gadson, Brandon Penn, Jeff Jones and Kevin Noon will be honored prior to tipoff.
After a shaky start to the season, Fairfield played its way back into title contention with seven straight wins but any hope of a second consecutive regular-season championship died Friday night in the loss to Iona.
Now the Stags are playing for seeding. They can’t finish second — Loyola and Manhattan play Sunday with the winner grabbing second— but will finish third with a victory.
Both the Greyhounds and Jaspers have the tiebreaker over the Stags.
If Rider wins, there will be a rematch in the 4-5 game.
Fairfield beat Rider, 61-52 in the first meeting between the two.
Derek Needham scored 15 points for the Stags while Penn and Jones each had 11 for the Broncs.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Jr., 7.5 ppg), G-Jeff Jones (Sr., 13.2 ppg), F-Novar Gadson (Sr., 10.6 ppg), F-Brandon Penn (Sr., 12.5 ppg), C-Junior Fortunat (Fr., 4.1 ppg).
Fairfield: G-Derek Needham (Jr., 11.8 ppg), G-Colin Nickerson (Jr., 3.6 ppg), F-Maurice Barrow (So., 8.6 ppg), F-Rakim Sanders (Sr., 16.7 ppg), C-Ryan Olander (Sr., 9.1 ppg).