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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Rider's late rally falls short in loss to Iona

Jimmie Taylor scored 13 straight Rider points, but the team's rally fell short. Photo by Gregg Slaboda


Trailing Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leader Iona by 13 with three minutes left, Jimmie Taylor led an improbable rally that nearly landed Rider an even more unlikely victory.

Ultimately, the Broncs came up short despite cutting that 13-point deficit to one in the final minute and fell to Iona, 80-77, Friday night at Alumni Gymnasium.

“Waited a little too late to get going,” head coach Kevin Baggett lamented.

The game looked over until Taylor donned his Superman cape.

Down 75-62, Taylor scored 13 straight Rider points, sparking a comeback that came up just short when Anthony Myles air-balled a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining.

The Broncs had a full-court heave to tie the game but that too came up empty.

Taylor finished with 19 points, Danny Stewart had 15 and Myles 14.

“I was actually feeling it in that stretch,” Taylor said. “That was because of my teammates. They kept rallying behind me and kept giving me the ball, telling me to be aggressive.”

A.J. English and Sean Armand had 20 each for the Gaels (21-6, 15-2).

Taylor buried three 3-pointers during his hot streak. His 3 with 23 seconds left made it 77-75.
English then made 1 of 2 and Myles converted a quick layup to make it 78-77.

English made both with 12.9 seconds remaining, but Myles took a handoff from Taylor, nearly traveled and then came up well short on a 3-pointer.

“I feel like we got a little lucky at the end with Myles shooting the air ball,” English said.

Iona also caught a break after Taylor’s second 3-pointer made it 75-72 with 1:01 left and the Gaels didn’t appear to beat the 10-second count in the backcourt.

Iona coach Tim Cluess called the final three minutes uncharacteristic for his team, which has now won 10 in a row after hanging on Friday night.

“They made a heck of a lot of good shots,” Cluess said. “They’re a good team and when they get going like that momentum is a funny thing.”

Rider ranks fifth nationally in 3-point percentage at 41 percent but struggled from long range, going 7 of 26. The teams combined for 13 of 49 from behind the arc.

After a predictably fast-paced first half, the Broncs got the game at their tempo in the second — there were 53 total shots in the second half compared to 69 in the first — but couldn’t cut into a lead that hovered between eight and 14 until the final three minutes.

“There (were) too many layups missed tonight,” said Baggett, also ruing his team’s 10 for 20 night at the foul line. “We were in a rush and when we finally got to the basket, we missed a bunch of layups. I’m sure we missed at least 10 layups tonight.”

Rider (13-13, 9-8) fell to 1-5 in games against the top four teams in the conference and faces a must-win contest Sunday at home against Siena, which beat Manhattan Friday, in order to hold on to fifth place and stay out of the opening round of the MAAC tournament.

“It is frustrating because we work so hard all week in practice,” Taylor said. “We just have mental lapses during the game. As we keep moving forward we have to keep growing and keep coming together.”

The Broncs have three games left on the schedule with two of those at home where they are just 6-5 this season.

That, the coach can’t quite seem to figure out.

“I don’t know. I really don’t,” Baggett said. “Inconsistent. Whether it be on the road or at home. That pretty much sums up our team.”

NOTES: Baggett was called for technical foul in the first half for protesting a non-call on a Myles drive to the basket. It was his second of the season. … Iona improved to 21-4 during Armand’s career in games in which he scores at lest 20 points.


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