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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 ( or email

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Worn-down Rider falls at Quinnipiac

HAMDEN, Conn. — His team playing for the third time this week against physically imposing Quinnipiac, Rider head coach Kevin Baggett could sense this kind of performance coming.

Battered on both ends of the floor by the nation’s top rebounding team, the Broncs dropped a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest, 82-61, on Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center.

“I know we’re tired,” Baggett said. “I’m not making any excuses because Quinnipiac kicked our behinds.”

The Bobcats lead the country in rebounds per game and rebounding margin, so for Rider coming off a performance in which it was outrebounded by 21 against Marist that wasn’t a good omen.

With big men Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame clogging the middle, Quinnipiac hammered the Broncs on the glass, 44-30, collecting 23 offensive boards along the way.

“We have to try to get our legs back,” Baggett said. “You play this type of game against a physical team ... they’re sitting there and they’re rested and then you have to come and get beat up on by these guys.”

Baggett’s frustration boiled over when he was whacked with a technical foul early in the second half as the Bobcats began to open up a double-digit lead.

Quinnipiac was whistled for only nine fouls. That didn’t sit well with the second-year coach, whose team committed 21.

“I’m normally not a bellyacher on that stuff,” Baggett said, “but nine fouls, it’s a joke.”

For the first 18 minutes, the Broncs (12-11, 8-6) — now losers of two straight — competed on both ends, but a disastrous final two minutes of the opening half pushed all the momentum in the Bobcats’ favor.

Quinnipiac (14-8, 9-4) finished the first half on a 10-0 run, taking a 34-27 lead into intermission.

Here’s the sequence: Azotam dunk, Evan Conti 3-pointer after Rider couldn’t come up with a 50-50 ball, Umar Shannon bank shot, Zaid Hearst 3-pointer to beat the buzzer.

By the time the under-16 media timeout hit in the second half, Baggett had a technical foul and Drame had just polished off a two-handed jam, putting Quinnipiac up 15.

“We just had to match their energy, match their toughness,” said freshman guard Jimmie Taylor, who finished with 12 points. “We came into this game knowing what we had to do and just didn’t do it.”

Danny Stewart paced the Broncs with 15 points and Khalil Alford put in a solid shift off the bench with 10 on 5-for-7 shooting.

Azotam led five Bobcats in double figures with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Hearst finished with 13 and the Shannons — Umar and Shaq — had 12 each.

Rider isn’t back in action until Thursday when Manhattan visits Alumni Gymnasium, and Baggett said he’ll likely give the team a couple days off to rest.

“We’re on a two-game losing streak,” Taylor said. “We have to bounce back. We got Manhattan coming up, and we want to beat Manhattan because they are one of the best in the league. We still need a signature win.”

Despite a 21-point loss, the coach did exit his postgame press conference with a promise for Thursday night.

“We’ll be ready,” Baggett said.


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