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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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Rider bests Morgan State to reach .500

Teddy Okereafor had 21 points. Jackie Schear Photo

Lawrenceville >> Kevin Baggett was posed the question of whether he would have signed up for a .500 record with one game left in 2014.

“I’m certainly signing up for it with the schedule we had,” Baggett said after Rider beat Morgan State, 62-48, Thursday night at Alumni Gymnasium and evened its record at 6-6. “There’s a couple games I’d like to have back, but being at 6-6 with the schedule we played, I’m certainly happy.”

The Broncs have one game left before the calendar turns to 2015 — at Wagner on the 29th — and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play takes up the remainder of the schedule.

Against the Bears, Baggett warned his team not to look at their poor record and take them lightly.

For a half, Rider got a decent challenge from the MEAC school before turning up its pressure on defense and pulling away for a comfortable victory.

Teddy Okereafor led three Bronc players in double figures with 21 points, Jimmie Taylor finished with 13 and Matt Lopez added 12.

Lopez also grabbed 12 rebounds, becoming the first Rider player this season to record a double-double.

“I think I should be rebounding a lot more than I have,” Lopez said. “That’s one thing that I’ve personally been focusing on to help us out.”

Lopez scored all eight of his second-half points, including a pair of thunderous dunks, during a 15-3 spurt out of intermission.

“I think defense and the press (were the difference),” Lopez said. “Coach gave us a challenge and we embraced it.”

For the game, the Broncs forced 16 Morgan State turnovers and got 12 fastbreak points.

Lopez won the battle of 7-footers, outdueling the Bears’ Zech Smith (6 points, 10 rebounds), but he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

“I’ve trained against bigger guys, but tonight I struggled,” said Lopez, who shot 5 of 10. “I didn’t make a lot of shots. Me and coach Donyell Marshall have to get back to getting some shots up.”

Cedric Blossom paced Morgan State (2-9) with 21 points.

Rider led by seven on two separate occasions during the first half, but the Bears battled back to a brief 25-24 lead on a 3-point play by Blake Bozeman.

Okereafor finished the first half with 15 points, including five straight after the Morgan State went in front, helping the Broncs to a 29-27 advantage after 20 minutes.

The Broncs have 11 days until they meet Wagner on Staten Island and that will be good for a team that’s now banged up. Kahlil Thomas left the game with a left ankle injury while Anthony D’Orazio and Khalil Alford also picked up less serious knocks. Xavier Lundy didn’t play due to a shoulder contusion suffered in the win last Saturday over Hartford.

“I’m just glad we got a little time to rest,” Baggett said.

Once they get back on the floor, Rider can finish 2014 with a winning record.

“I think we’re definitely feeling good about ourselves, but with that being said, we still have a lot to get better at,” Lopez said. “We see a lot of things we’re not doing right and have to get better at.”


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