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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Broncs show they're not ready for primetime in loss to Manhattan

RIVERDALE, N.Y. — If Rider intended to announce itself as a contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference race with a signature victory, than Friday night’s performance proved the Broncs aren’t quite there.

Facing preseason favorite Manhattan — a bigger and quicker side as it turned out — Rider never got out of the traps in what eventually was a 67-51 loss here at Draddy Gymnasium.

The Broncs fell to 9-9 overall and 5-4 in the league, dropping a full two games behind the leaders. Meanwhile, the Jaspers (14-4, 7-2) moved into a first-place tie with Canisius and Iona, which beat Quinnipiac Friday night.

“Our mindset is not right,” coach Kevin Baggett said. “We’re not a tough team. If we don’t play with a toughness — a mental toughness — we’re just not a good team.”

Outside of a four-minute stretch to start the second half when Rider scored the first 12 points, it was outworked by a more athletic Manhattan team, which got a huge boost when leading scorer George Beamon returned from a shoulder injured that cost him the previous three games.

“I don’t even think we played well tonight,” Baggett said. “We had a number of guys that didn’t play well. That’s not a gap. We’ll be ready for these guys when they come to our place.”

The Broncs cut a 16-point halftime deficit to four with the first 12 points of the second half, but then gave almost all of it back as the Jaspers put up the next 11.

Rhamel Brown punctuated that run with a thunderous jam that brought the crowd of 1,632 to its feet.

“It was very deflating,” said senior forward Danny Stewart. “Then again, it was all about how we started. We came out flat and then we try to make a run, but we dug ourselves too deep of a hole.”

Rider finished the game 13 of 48 from the floor for a woeful 27.1 percent, including 1 of 11 from behind the arc. The Broncs came in shooting over 42 percent from 3-point range, but couldn’t find the stroke against Manhattan’s aggressive trapping defense.

Rider turned the ball over 17 times and now has 41 in its last two games.

“We just got to take care of the ball and make the right passes,” said Stewart, who finished with a team-high 17 points thanks to 13 of 13 from the line. “I know we can break the press. When the ball goes in and we break it, we wait too long. We just got to get it and go and not let them set up.”

Zedric Sadler was the only other Bronc to reach double figures with 15 points.

The returning Beamon finished with a game-high 21 points for Manhattan and Michael Alvarado added 12.

The Jaspers blocked 11 shots and at halftime had more rejections (five) than Rider had field goals (four).

The Broncs got off to an horrendous start, making just one of their first 10 field goal attempts — an Anthony Myles jumper with 11:49 left — and paid the price as Manhattan led by as many as 19 in the first half.

Rider has a short turnaround, facing Monmouth Sunday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium.

“We just got to go back to practice and work hard,” Stewart said. “We got to play harder. We can’t talk about it. We’re at the point of the season where we just have to do it.”

NOTES: Ewing native and former Life Center Academy standout Carlton Allen made a brief cameo for Manhattan early in the second half. This was just Allen’s sixth appearance of the season.


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