|Nurideen Lindsey drives past Lucky Jones/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE|
LAWRENCEVILLE — The build-up to Friday night’s curtain raiser was
all about Kevin Baggett and his first game as Rider coach, but it didn’t
take Nurideen Lindsey long to steal the show, turning it into his own
Lindsey scored 26 points, the Broncs harassed Robert Morris on
defense and won their season opener for the first time since 2009,
79-54, in front of a sold-out Alumni Gymnasium.
“I was pretty excited to get out there for the season opener,” said
Lindsey, who finished 10 of 15 from the field in 32 minutes in his first game since transferring from St. John's. “Our fans
come and they show some unbelievable support so I was excited to come
out and perform for them on our floor in the opener.”
Baggett promised improved defense and an up-tempo style from his new-look squad, which features seven fresh faces.
He was true to his word.
Utilizing a full-court press, the
Broncs (1-0) relentlessly harried the Colonials (0-1) into 17 turnovers,
holding them 25.5 percent shooting.
“If we defend, we will,” said Baggett when asked if there will be
more performances like this. “I can’t say we’ll win by this large of a
margin, but if we defend, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win every
Meanwhile, Rider shot 50.9 percent, connecting on 8 of 17 from behind the arc.
Anthony Myles and Danny Stewart both finished with 11 points and Jon Thompson added 10.
That was a stark contrast from last year’s opener when RMU ran Rider
off the floor in a 26-point victory. The Broncs were never in that game,
trailing by 20 at the half.
Payback was served Friday.
Baggett said in the lead-up to the game
that last season’s result wasn’t bulletin-board material. Maybe he was
telling little white lie.
Myles said he went back with Thompson and Lindsey to watch the film of that game.
“Actually, it was,” Myles said while a smiling Baggett sat next to
him. “We were going over what we needed to do, and our defense wasn’t
where it needed to be, and that’s one emphasis this year that (Baggett)
stresses. We did that tonight. Everybody bought in and we came up with
Lindsey got the Broncs off to a fast start, scoring 16 of his points
in the first half. Rider held RMU to 6 of 25 shooting in the opening 20
minutes, building a 13-point advantage at halftime.
The lead grew in the second half.
Lindsey threw down a one-handed jam on the fast-break, and while the
Colonials, 26-game winners a year ago, continued to throw up bricks,
Rider pulled away.
Myles drilled a 3-pointer with 11:47 remaining and after a RMU
basket, Zedric Sadler, one of six freshmen to see time, hit a 3 of his
own, giving the Broncs a 57-36 lead.
Rider outscored the Colonials, 27-9, to start the second half.
“I was very comfortable,” Lindsey said. “Coach does a great job of
giving me that confidence in being comfortable of leading the guys to
the best of my abilities. They emphasize everything at practice,
especially defense. Lately, I’ve just tried to be a sponge and take
Karvel Anderson was the on RMU player to reach double figures,
finishing with 11 points. Coron Williams, who scored a career-high 28
points in last year’s meeting, ended up with seven — he scored the
Colonials’ first six on 3-point shots (they would only make two more the
rest of the way, finishing 4 of 20).
“I certainly want to (keep the pace up),” Baggett said. “That’s why I kept hammering these guys about getting in shape.”
The Broncs have won just four of their last 11 season openers, but
they’ve been more successful in home debuts, claiming 14 of the past 17.
Rider, which has a three straight at home to open the season, faces
Stony Brook Tuesday at 6 a.m. The game is part of ESPN’s 24-hour Tip-Off
Sironda Chambers scored 18 points, MyNeshia McKnezie added 16
and grabbed nine rebounds and the Rider women started their season with
a 62-50 win on the road at Stony Brook.
Kim Hanlon and Sabre Proctor scored 11 each to lead the Seawolves.
The Broncs play their home opener Monday night against NJIT.
The NCAA selected Bridgeport, Conn., and Webster Bank Arena to
host the women’s basketball regional that was originally scheduled to
take place at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.
Trenton lost the two-day regional when the NCAA pulled all its
championship events from New Jersey in response to the state’s continued
push to legalize sports wagering.
Fairfield replaces Rider as co-host with the MAAC.