|Tommy Pereira scored 17 points in the win over St. Peter's/ File Photo by JOHN BLAINE|
JERSEY CITY — Tommy Pereira sure made the most of his
Filling in for the injured Nurideen Lindsey, Pereira scored
a career-high 17 points in his first career start, helping Rider to a 66-54
victory over St. Peter’s Thursday night in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
contest at the Yanitelli Center.
Pereira hit five 3s, including a pair from long range in the
second half that helped spark a 9-0 run in which the Broncs grabbed the lead
“When coach called my name, I was ready to go,” said
Pereira, who found out he was going to start two days ago after Lindsey
suffered a concussion Tuesday in practice.
“Excitement, nervous, you know, first career start,” said
the junior guard from England. “I just wanted to go out there and play carefree
— just play with confidence.”
From the time the Peacocks led 37-35, Rider outscored them
22-8, taking a 12-point lead on Jon Thompson’s layup with 3:30 remaining.
The Broncs (10-9, 5-2) won four in a row for the first time
since the end of the 2010-11 season — a streak that reached six straight and
included a victory over Canisius in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament.
The 5-2 start in conference play is the best since beginning
the 2007-08 season 11-2.
“When you win, the confidence starts to flourish,” said
coach Kevin Baggett. “You’re seeing it from a bunch of guys. They enjoy playing
with each other and it’s a good group to be around.”
St. Peter’s (6-11, 1-6) dropped its fifth straight.
Baggett said Lindsey is still day-to-day and will be
evaluated again before the team faces Iona Sunday afternoon at Alumni
Pereira filled in admirably, logging a career-high 27
minutes, while shooting 6 of 10 from the field.
He even had a laugh afterward.
“I was,” Pereira admitted when asked if he was a little
winded from all the minutes.
“I missed my first two and I didn’t want to get down on
myself like I have in the past few games,” he added. “Once I got my third then
my fourth, it all just came to me. I was playing with bags of confidence.”
His teammates also have faith him, knowing he can get hot
from the perimeter.
“(Tommy) shows glimpses of it in practice,” said guard
Anthony Myles, who finished with 12 points of his own. “We all trust him. We
know he has the potential to be great. When he gets out, there is no drop off.”
Thompson added 10 points, including a thunderous dunk to put
an exclamation on the victory. Danny Stewart chipped in eight points and nine
Yvon Raymond had 15 points and Chris Burke added 11 for St.
The Broncs shot 51.1 percent and outrebounded the Peacocks
“We were focusing on defensive stops and rebounds,” Myles
said. “We wanted to limit second-chance opportunities for them.”
In the first half, Thompson picked up two quick fouls, limiting
him to seven minutes and Stewart, coming off a week in which he averaged 22.5
points per game, had two baskets.
Despite that, and 2 of 8 from the free-throw line, Rider
led, 30-27, at halftime, taking its first lead when Pereira knocked down a 3
with 2:12 left.
Junior Fortunat’s putback with 30.5 seconds remaining
provided the final points of the half as the Broncs scored nine of the final
St. Peter’s scored the first seven points, but Thompson
battled through the foul trouble and hit back-to-back 3s, sparking an 8-0 run
that cut the deficit to 17-16.
“When you come to St. Peter’s — the record may not reflect
it — it’s one of the toughest teams in our conference,” Myles said. “This is a
good win for us. We’re building up to where we want to be with a big game
Sunday against Iona.”
NOTES: Zedric Sadler gave Rider a scare when he went down
clutching his right knee midway through the second half. He got up under his
own power and returned to the game. … Stewart moved in to 20th place on the
school’s all-time rebound list, matching the 578 of Charles Smith from 1993-96.