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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko (https://twitter.com/kj_franko) or email kfranko@trentonian.com.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Morning Run — Game 29: Rider 61, Charleston Southern 54

Khalil Alford stepped up for Rider/ Photo by JOHN BLAINE

Quick reaction: With its 16 victory of the season, Rider assured itself that it won't finish below .500. That's a pretty good return for Kevin Baggett, who is four wins away from equaling the program record for victories by a first-year coach (20 by Robert Greenwood in 1962-63). The Broncs shook off another slow start Saturday to get past Big South leaders Charleston Southern (16-10) in a BracketBuster. The Bucs were playing their third game of the week — they played a league game Thursday — and the weary travel legs were evident in the second half. CSU came in averaging 9.3 threes per game, but connected on just 4 of 19 from behind the arc. Rider got nice contributions from Junior Fortunat (12 points) and Khalil Alford (eight second-half points).



Three thoughts: 1. Zedric Sadler did not dress Saturday because of a violation of team rules. Baggett said in his postgame press conference that the suspension is "indefinite" at the moment, but he is going to meet with Sadler before the team travels to Niagara on Wednesday to decide if he will miss any more time. Sadler's suspension comes at a bad time as the Broncs enter the final weekend of the regular season. The freshman was coming off MAAC Rookie of the Week honors and has proven himself as a valuable piece off the bench. If he's held out of the conference tournament, that's a huge blow dealt to Rider's chances.

2. Fortunat had one of his best performances on a difficult day. The sophomore forward's father is gravely ill, but he went out and put in 12 points — on a perfect 5 of 5 from the field and 2 of 2 from the foul line — and grabbed eight rebounds. Fortunat went home after the game to spend some time with his father. "For him to play the way he played today, I'm proud of him," Baggett said.

3. If Sadler is going to miss extended time, Alford is going to get his chance to play some of those minutes. The freshman has nice-looking shot and showed it off Saturday with a pair of key second-half 3s. "I've been yelling at him all year to be more aggressive offensively," Baggett said. "It's all confidence. Once I knock that first one down, I know I can get in a flow," Alford said.

AROUND THE MAAC
The MAAC had a good BracketBuster Saturday, finishing the day 6-3. The league still has one game to go today, when Siena hosts Radford.

Indiana St. 65, Iona 64: Has there been a team more unlucky than Iona? Gaels (15-13) put up a great fight to rally in second half, but again were on the short end after the Sycamores scored a layup with four seconds left. Iona has lost six of its last seven by a combined 11 points.

Vermont 87, Canisius 79: Griffs (17-11) got 27 points from Harold Washington but never got closer than five in the second half. America East is pretty good this year with Stony Brook, Vermont and Albany at the top.

Albany 58, Fairfield 50: Stags (17-12) are never going to set the gym on fire. They've only scored 70 or more points in two of their last nine game. Even with Saturday's loss to the Danes, Fairfield is still 7-2 in those games, so Sydney Johnson's club defends pretty well.

Manhattan 65, Buffalo 64: Jaspers (11-16) locked down on defense when they had to, holding the Bulls to five points over the final 3:55.

Niagara 92, Northwestern State 76: Just how hot were the MAAC leaders in the second half? The Purple Eagles (17-11) scored 61 points in the final 20 minutes, shooting 66.7 percent, including 8 of 10 from long range. Joe Mihalich's side also got Antoine Mason back from a sprained ankle. The sophomore scored 20 points in 37 minutes.

St. Peter's 66, Hampton 59: Peacocks (9-18) rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit.

Marist 112, VMI 74: Chavaughn Lewis had 30 points and 16 rebounds and Devin Price had 20 on 7 of 8 shooting for Red Foxes (8-20). Then again, everybody looks good against the Keydets.

Loyola 69, Tennessee State 67: Good victory for the Greyhounds (20-9) over solid OVC squad which was unbeaten at home. Loyola first MAAC school to 20 wins this season.

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