PISCATAWAY — Rider walked away from the Louis Brown Athletic Center
Friday feeling like it missed an opportunity for a road upset.
Turnovers and empty trips at crucial moments again were costly, and Rutgers pulled away late for a 68-56 victory.
“We had some bad turnovers at the wrong time,” said coach Kevin
Baggett, whose team dropped its third straight following another woeful
offensive performance that included 14 made baskets and 16 turnovers.
The first-year coach didn’t help his cause with a technical foul
that allowed the Scarlet Knights to open up a 56-49 lead with 4:14
Baggett thought Jon Thompson got fouled driving to the basket, but
the referee ruled there was no foul, awarding the ball to Rutgers after
it came off Thompson’s leg.
That was Rider’s second consecutive possession to end in a turnover while trailing by five.
Effectively, that put the game out of reach for the Broncs, who were once again struggling to knock down shots.
It was all part of an 8-0 Rutgers run capped by Dane Miller’s fastbreak layup that gave it a 60-49 with 2:44 left.
So was it a mistake on his part?
“It’s not,” Baggett said. “I just thought I saw something that the ref didn’t see and he called a technical on me.”
Danny Stewart bounced back from a poor game against Princeton to lead
Rider (6-7) with 20 points and Anthony Myles added 14. Stewart
connected on just three field goals, but aggressively attacked the
basket, going 14 of 14 from the free-throw line.
The Broncs stayed in the game at the line, hitting 22 of 23.
“Overall, at the end of the day, it came down to turnovers,” Stewart said.
Rider fell to 0-5 in games in which it failed to score at least 60
points. It shot 30.4 percent (14 for 46, 8 for 23 from behind the arc).
Miller scored 17 of his team-high 18 points in the second half for the Scarlet Knights (9-2), who won their fifth straight.
Kadeem Jack added 12 off the bench and Wally Judge had 10 — all in
the first half — as Rutgers outscored Rider in the paint 32-14.
Eli Carter and Myles Mack, the Knights’ dynamic backcourt, each came
in averaging more than 16 points per game but combined for just one in
the first half. Carter came to life in the final 20 minutes, finishing
“Truthfully, I would rather take these games than a 25-point game because this shows we know how to win,” Miller said.
Trailing 50-47 with 7:30 remaining, Rider had three chances to tie, but misfired on a pair of 3-pointers and a layup.
They never got any closer.
“I feel as though we did (miss an
opportunity),” Myles said. “A couple of senseless turnovers by me and we
just didn’t capitalize when we should have. I do feel like we gave one
The first half was as brutal as it was comical.
One sequence firmly summed up the opening 20 minutes. Dera Nd-Ezuma
missed a wide-open layup on a breakaway, Stewart followed by bricking a
dunk and Nurideen Lindsey missed an open 3-pointer.
Judge, Rutgers’ 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward, then tried to unsuccessfully play point guard on the next possession.
After all that, the Scarlet Knights led 24-21 at intermission.
The Broncs are back in action in their final non-conference game — BracketBuster excluded — on New Year’s Eve at Delaware.
It’s a chance to break even with 2013 on the horizon.
“I know our guys will be resilient and want to come back and get better,” Baggett said.