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Monday, December 10, 2012

Rider coughs one up to Fairfield

Danny Stewart tries to throw one down/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE
 LAWRENCEVILLE — Rider turned the ball over so many times Sunday afternoon, it took a recount to figure out how many.

In total, 30 turnovers — many self-inflicted — led to a 65-52 loss to Fairfield in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Alumni Gymnasium.

The Broncs were originally credited with 29 turnovers, only to have the official scorer add insult to injury by adding one more after reviewing the tape.

“We set the game of basketball back,” said coach Kevin Baggett, whose team came in averaging 16.5 turnovers per game, including a 29-giveaway performance against Monmouth on Nov. 17, although it won that game.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Baggett continued. “I’ve never coached in a game like it. It was like we had never practiced and it was the first day we had got together as a team.”

The Stags (5-5, 1-1) took advantage of Rider’s sloppy play, grabbing control of a game the Broncs actually led at the half with a 16-1 run to open the final 20 minutes.

Rider (6-5, 1-1) missed its first six shots and coughed the ball up five times during that stretch.

 “Today is a day I have no answers,” Baggett said. “We were just so out of sync. We didn’t’ play well; we didn’t defend well enough — 29 turnovers, four assists — that’s not going to win you many games.”

Adding to Baggett’s frustration is his team’s home record. The Broncs are 2-3 in Lawrenceville and couldn’t capitalize on the momentum of back-to-back wins, including the league opener Friday night over Siena.

“We had some momentum, having won our last two games” the first-year coach said. “We have not played well here. I’m disappointed in our guys at that. We’ve taken a different approach here. It was one of those games that everybody collectively didn’t have it.”

Most notably — leading scorers Anthony Myles and Nurideen Lindsey.

The duo were averaging 27.6 points per game, but combined for zero points and 10 turnovers.
Lindsey (seven turnovers) played just five minutes in the second half. Even though he’s shooting over 50 percent (43 of 85) on the season, he has 52 turnovers to only 18 assists.

“Neither he nor Anthony were happy about it,” Baggett said. “I don’t have any answers. He’s healthy. He’s fine. He just didn’t have it, nor did Anthony.”

Rider led at halftime, 33-29, on the back of a 17-0 run midway through the first half.

Fairfield, which was also in a giving mood early (17 first-half turnovers; 23 total), went 7:29 without a point. When Zedric Sadler converted back-to-back baskets, the second of which came with 5:21 left in the period, Rider led by 15.

But the Stags outscored the Broncs, 18-9, over the final 5:11.

That carried over to the second half.

Derek Needham’s layup with 14:37 remaining gave Fairfield a 45-34 advantage.

Rider tried to chip away, cutting the deficit to 48-44 after Danny Stewart converted one of two free throws with 11:04 left, but that was as close the Broncs would get.

“We didn’t like the way we played in the first half either,” said guard Jon Thompson, who finished with 10 points. “We came to the locker room with the message of, ‘Let’s get better and stop turning the ball over.’ It didn’t transfer.”

Colin Nickerson and Maurice Barrow had 13 points each to lead Fairfield.

Sadler had 10 points and Dera Nd-Ezuma chipped in eight and eight rebounds for the Broncs.

Rider begins final exams Monday, so the team has until Dec. 20 for this performance to marinate before facing Mercer County rival Princeton.

“They were just bad turnovers — things that we normally don’t do,” Baggett said. “We just found a way to make every turnover possible.”


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