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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Broncs top Monmouth despite 28 turnovers

LAWRENCEVILLE — Maybe Danny Stewart is justified in saying Rider stole a victory Saturday afternoon against Monmouth.

It’s not often that you turn the ball over 28 times and win.

Yet the Broncs gutted out two key defensive stops in the final minute and hung on, 65-62, for a sixth consecutive victory over their in-state rival.

“I think we stole one,” Stewart said honestly after scoring a game-high 18 points, including a stretch of eight straight, single-handedly keeping the Broncs in front after Monmouth tied it with 7:25 to go.

“We played hard, but too many turnovers,” Stewart continued. “(We) can’t turn over the ball that many times because against a better team, that amount of turnovers will get you beat.”

Rider, despite the turnovers, also showed grit.

Leading by two with less than a minute remaining, Zedric Sadler blocked Jesse Steele’s 3-point attempt and, after Nurideen Lindsey split a pair of free throws, Jon Thompson forced Andrew Nicholas — Monmouth’s leading scorer, who had a dreadful afternoon (eight points on 3 of 17 shooting) — into a contested 3-point try that was well off the mark.

“To our credit,” Stewart said, “that last play, it showed our resilience and how much better we became on defense.”

“Our guys battled,” said coach Kevin Baggett. “We didn’t always play smart, but we battled on (the defensive) end, knowing that end is going to win you games. Those guys were able to buckle down and get two stops when we needed them.”

At halftime, it didn’t look like Rider (2-1), which has now won 12 of the last 16 against Monmouth, was going to need a pair of game-saving defensive stops.

The Broncs built a 15-point lead at intermission by outscoring the Hawks 21-0 from beyond the arc. Monmouth shot 0 of 7 on 3-pointers and 7 of 31 overall.

Then the giveaways started. Rider committed 16 second-half turnovers — which Monmouth turned into 21 points — and all of a sudden it was a nip-and-tuck ballgame.

In total, the Hawks scored 27 points off 28 Rider turnovers.

Dion Nesmith led Monmouth (1-2) with 15 points and Stephen Spinella added 13.

Thompson finished with 10 for the Broncs and Tommy Pereira matched a career high with nine on a trio of 3-pointers.

Marcus Ware’s layup with 1:12 left evened the game at 62.

On the Broncs’ ensuing trip, Lindsey (seven points) was fouled by Nesmith and made both free throws.

Defense then became the calling card.

“When we were on the free-throw line, I said I wanted to guard (Steele),” the freshman Sadler said. “I knew down in crunch time, he was going to make a move and try to score. I thought I could stay in front of him and contain him. Make him make a play.”

Twenty-eight turnovers couldn’t stop the Broncs from making a last stand — or two.

“We definitely needed a game like this,” said Lindsey, who came in averaging 21.5 points per game but got in early foul trouble. “It was a total team effort. I pointed out every guy that picked it up for me. That is something I expect. I’m not surprised by it. I don’t think our coaching staff is surprised by it.

“If we have nights like this, which we will have, (Baggett) believes he has a bunch of guys that can pick it up for myself or someone else if they don’t have a good night.”

NOTES: Freshman forward Derrick Stewart missed his second straight game (discipline). Baggett said he will return for the team’s four-game road trip this week. … Monmouth was also in the giving spirit, turning the ball over 17 times. … Freshman guard Jamal Nwaniemeka (Conwell-Egan) got his first extended run, playing five minutes in the first half. … The Broncs board a plane at 4:30 a.m. Sunday to fly to South Carolina for the first game of the Hoops for Hope Classic. They also play at SMU before heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for games against Jacksonville and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


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