Morning Run — Game 18: Rider 64, Loyola 57
Quick reaction: For the first time this season, Rider has won three in a row. This one, against a team the Broncs lost to a little over a week ago, was the most impressive of the three. With an 11-point lead and 6:30 remaining, the question was: Can they close it out? It got a little hairy — Loyola got within two — but Rider (9-9, 4-2) finished the job thanks largely to Jon Thompson and Danny Stewart. Both scored 23 points with Stewart, like he did against Manhattan, getting the key basket once the Greyhounds (12-6, 4-2) got within two. "It's good that you're in this game so when you go further down the stretch, guys understand what it is like to play in these games," Baggett said. "I think it can only help us."
Terrific Thompson: It's hard to believe Thompson had never scored 20 points in a game. His 23 were a career high, besting his previous mark of 19 in last season's MAAC quarterfinal loss to Fairfield.
Thompson joked afterward that it was because he was too passive. He certainly wasn't Sunday.
The senior was 8 of 10 from the field and 6 of 9 from the foul line, while consistently attacking the basket.
"When he's playing well, it's fun to watch, fun to play alongside of him," Stewart said.
Where are you Nuri? If there is one concern, it's the lack of production from Nurideen Lindsey. Baggett didn't even have the junior guard on the floor in crunch time.
Lindsey played just nine minutes in the second half, finishing with tow points on 1 of 8 shooting.
Baggett said Lindsey didn't do some of the things he wanted him to do and he also wanted the taller Shawn Valentine in the game to make entry passes into the post.
The coach said he's not down on Lindsey and that the junior will be back in the lineup for Thursday's game at St. Peter's.
Rider also is going to need his points to survive the rest of the season.
"We'll need him," Baggett said. "We need his leadership, his experience. I need him to be another guy that can come in and score. He's capable of doing it."
Part of his problem is an ability to knock down jump shots. Lindsey is shooting 27 percent (10 for 37) on 3-pointers. The other part, Baggett thinks, is he's being too unselfish at times.
"There are some times when he has to be a bit more selfish and look for his shot" Baggett said. "There are some things he's leaving out there. I'm trying to get him to be more aggressive. He's been a team player. I have no issues at all."
Loyola stifled: Give the Broncs credit for a strong defensive performance. When the two met on Jan. 4, Dylon Cormier and Erik Etherly each had 21 points.
On Sunday, that duo combined for 20 points on 6 of 21 shooting. Cormier had 11 and Etherly nine.
Etherly, the conference preseason Player of the Year, was outplayed by Stewart, and got in foul trouble early in the second half.
Robert Olson scored 25 points but took 22 shots — about 8-10 too many if Loyola is going to be successful — including 2 of 13 from behind the arc (his last make was a meaningless 3 as time expired).
Not looking ahead: Baggett isn't ready to start scoreboard watching just yet. Although, the coach does admit it's nice to be near the top of the league after 6 of 18 conference games.
"We're just trying to take care of what we can control," Baggett said. "This is a long season. This league is good. Loyola is a very good team that is going to be at there at the top of the league. To have a chance to come home and win this game in front of our crowd, I can't say enough about the way these guys competed."
Sean Armand continues to enhance his reputation as one of the best long-range shooters in the country. He knocked down 9 of 15 from behind the arc en route to 32 points as the Gaels improved to 5-1 in the league. Tre Bowman scored 24 points off the bench, picking up the slack for Lamont Jones, who had an off night with just seven points.
Niagara 67, Fairfield 64: Antoine Mason had 17 points as the Purple Eagles improved to 5-1 in the MAAC. The Stags, who were quietly putting together a nice season with six straight wins, have now lost three in a row and sit at 2-4 in the conference. Desmond Wade had two chances to tie it — first on a 3-pointer and then from the free-throw line, but made his third free throw instead of missing it intentionally after splitting the first two.
Manhattan 65, Marist 53: Nice bounce-back win for the Jaspers to get to 3-3 in the league. Michael Alvarado returned to play 22 minutes off the bench. The Red Foxes fell to 1-5 in the conference.
Siena 66, St. Peter's 53: Saints have won two in a row for the first time all season. They made 27 of 36 free throw, a big improvement from the 60 percent clip they shoot them at for the season. Don't know that the fortunes are turning in Albany, but at 2-4 in the MAAC there is something to build on.
The Peacocks, who are next for Rider, fell to 1-5 in the league.