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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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rider rips Penn to even record

Zedric Sadler had a career-high 23 points. (John Blaine Photo)

Philadelphia >> Rarely would you consider the second game of the season a must-win, but contemplating what’s on tap, it’s hard to blame Rider for feeling that way.

Coming off an opening-night loss, the Broncs continued their tour of Ivy League campuses, only this time picking up an important early victory, 73-57, over Penn Tuesday night at the Palestra.

What made Game No. 2 so important?

Rider plays its home opener Friday against Lehigh, which already pushed nationally-ranked Villanova before partaking in the Orlando Classic, featuring glamour games against Kansas, Michigan State and either Georgia Tech or Marquette in the same week.

A loss Tuesday night to a Quakers side picked to finish near the bottom of the eight-team Ivy League could have met a huge hole for Kevin Baggett’s club.

Instead, the Broncs come back to Lawrenceville with an even record.

“We planned on going 3-0 before we went to Orlando, so with that first loss, we needed to win this game,” said guard Zedric Sadler, who was fantastic, scoring a career-high 23 points.

In fact, Sadler, who Baggett has called the team’s alpha dog, was the player who stepped up and delivered that message following the loss to Princeton.

“Just come out and play hard, play our game,” Sadler said when asked what that message was. “If we want to be a good team, we have to win games like this and go on winning streaks instead of losing streaks.”

Added Baggett: “The neat thing is sometimes you have to learn your team a little bit, so I didn’t want to be the one to say it to the guys. Zedric Sadler was the one saying to them, ‘fellas we need this game,’ so it allowed me to say, ‘Zed, repeat that,’ because we really do need this game. It was important because we do have a tough schedule ahead and we just needed to rebound off a tough loss to Princeton as well.”

Sadler, who by his own admission was less than 75 percent last season while hampered by sore knees, has the spring back in his step.

The junior from Detroit was an efficient 7 for 9 from the floor and made all four of his 3-point attempts.

His previous high was 21 points on Nov. 23, 2013 in a win over Central Connecticut State.

“I just go into the flow of the game,” Sadler said. “I’m not that type of player. If it’s a night where somebody is hot or I feel like I can take advantage of something, that’s the type of player I am. I’m not a just shoot, shoot player. I’m (going to) feel myself around, see what’s open, take my shots and try to run my team.”

Jimmie Taylor added 15 points and Khalil Alford chipped in 10 off the bench.

Rider (1-1) did it by getting out in transition and knocking down open looks, particularly from long range, finishing 10 of 18 on 3-pointers. It also had 10 fast-break points and 18 off Penn (0-2) turnovers.

Taylor knocked in his first three shots for seven of the team’s first nine points and the Broncs built a 17-point cushion with a 19-3 run over a 5:56 span of the first half, sparked by eight straight Alford points off the bench.

Rider shot 60 percent in the opening 20 minutes, including 7 of 10 from behind the arc. It finished 52 percent for the game and led by as many as 24 with 6:26 remaining.

Sadler also did the defensive job on Tony Hicks. The Quakers’ high-scoring guard was coming off a 31-point performance in their opening loss to Delaware State.

But with Sadler glued to his hip, Hicks was limited to 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting in 29 minutes.

Which begs the question: Career high in points or stopping Hicks?

“Both,” Sadler said. “Is that a good answer?”


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