ALBANY, N.Y. – Opening round men’s action at the MAAC post season tournament began with No. 8 seed Rider facing No. 9 seed Quinnipiac. The two split their head-to-head regular season meetings. Their Thursday evening meeting opened up first round men’s action at the Times Union Center.
Rider edged Quinnipiac 60-57 to earn a date with Monmouth on Friday in the conference quarterfinals.
After a relatively early first half, Rider made its mark the final twenty minutes. Quinnipiac kept pace early as the first five possessions breakdown shows. Looking at the first five possessions after half time gives a good look to see how the teams are coming out, and ascertain if adjustments have been made and what is their affect.
The score was 32-30 in Quinnipiac’s favor at the half. The first five possessions after the half saw Rider score on four of those possessions for an 8-6 edge. At the sixteen minute mark the game was tied at 38.
Rider achieved just enough separation, knocking down two three-pointers that expanded the lead from four points to eight at the 8 minute mark. The Bobcat offense wasn’t helped by the four-point (0 for 5 from the field) outing of leading point producer Giovanni McLean. The senior guard entered the contest averaging 13.3 points per game. Rider’s interior players did a good job battling Quinnipiac big men, forcing them to make finishing inside a difficult task.
Quinnipiac, playing from behind most of the game, still stayed tough. A James Ford Jr. three-pointer with under 30 seconds to go cut the Rider lead to one. Following a Bronc turnover the Bobcats had the ball before losing it themselves. Teddy Okereafor was fouled and hit both free throws with 7.9 seconds to go. Dimitri Floras rimmed a long three attempt at the buzzer and Rider was in the quarters.
“We’re happy to live another day,” Rider coach Kevin Baggett said. “We didn’t finish it out the way we wanted but hey, a win is a win and that’s what matters this time of year.”
Jimmie Taylor of Rider paced all scorers with 18 points. Taylor hit 5 of 6 from long range. Kahill Thomas added 14 points and dozen boards. “Lilly (Thomas) gave us that inside presence we needed,” Baggett said. The Rider mentor hoped to match Quinnipiac in rebounding, a specialty of coach Tom Moore’s group. To his delight, Baggett saw the Broncs win the battle of the boards 33-31.
Quinnipiac finishes 9-21. Rider is now 13-19.
“We have Monmouth which is tough and a challenge, “Baggett admitted. “We want to play them better than we did last Friday (a 21 point loss on the road). We want to play them like we did at home (79-78 setback) earlier. Our guys will be ready and look forward to it.”
The final numbers:
Possessions: Quinnipiac 67, Rider 64
Offensive efficiency: Rider 94, Quinnipiac 85