Howard Falls to Rider in a Close Match Up
Lawrenceville, NJ---The Rider men's basketball team avoided its first 0-5 start since 1987-88 with a victory over Howard Monday evening. "There are lessons to be learned every night," said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey. "It's nicer when you learn those lessons and are winning. Sometimes you just need to get that first win."
Senior Jeff Jones (Chester, PA/Monsignor Bonner) scored 21 points, including a three-point field goal with 25.7 seconds remaining for the final score, leading Rider to victory. "I just tried to get open," Jones said. "I knew Jon (junior Jonathon Thompson of Orlando, Fla./Jones) would penetrate and he found me."
It was the fifth assist of the game for Thompson.
"It was a hard-fought win," said Dempsey. "Howard came in here and played very well."
The three-pointer by Jones, giving Rider (1-4) a 74-72 lead, was the 10th and final lead change of the game. The 21 points is a season high for Jones, in his first season as a Bronc after sitting out last year as a transfer. "Coach told me to just relax," Jones said, "that it was only a week into the season. We're taking it one day at a time now."
Trailing 69-61, Rider out-scored Howard (1-3) 10-0, four points by Jones, to take a 71-69 lead with 1:21 left. "Down the stretch we dug in and got stops," Dempsey said.
Rider led 58-57 with 8:26 left before Howard went on a 12-3 run, five points each by Simuel Frazier and Prince Okoroh, to take a 69-61 lead with 4:33 left to play. Frazier finished with 14 points, while Okoroh finished with 15. "We're still trying to find ourselves as a group," Dempsey said.
Trailing 45-31 early in the second half, Rider went on a 22-6 run, nine points by sophomore Anthony Myles (Dover, DE/Poly-Tech), to take a 53-51 lead with 11:20 left to play. Myles finished with 16 points.
"That's the role I play," Myles said, "to attack the rim." Myles made six of nine field goal attempts, including three of four three-pointers. "It makes it a lot easier for me when we are running like we were tonight. It spreads the court and gives me opportunities."
Howard out-scored Rider 20-4 over the final 5:46 of the first half, six points each by Calvin Thompson and Mike Phillips, to take a 40-31 lead at half time. Thompson finished with 17 points.
The Broncs jumped out to a 16-9 lead, eight points by Jones. "We're coming together," Jones said. "We're still growing, still getting better."
Rider shot 58.5 percent from the field, while Howard shot 52.1 percent. "Shooting close to 60 percent is a real positive," Dempsey said. "I thought we ran the ball really well tonight."
Also for Rider sophomore Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) had eight points and eight rebounds, senior Novar Gadson (Philadelphia, Pa./John Bartram) added nine points and senior Brandon Penn (Philadelphia, Pa./Paul Robeson) added eight points.
The win was victory number 99 for Tommy Dempsey as the Rider head coach. Following two years as a Rider assistant coach and one year as an interim head coach, Dempsey now has a 99-70 record as the Rider head coach. Dempsey holds the record for wins in a season at three different colleges since he first became a head coach in1999-2000 and is now 187-82 in his head coaching career.
This was the second-ever meeting between Rider and Howard. The Broncs won 78-64 last season in Washington, DC.
Rider will celebrate tonight's win and Thanksgiving before heading down I 95 to play two games in Philadelphia. Rider takes on James Madison Friday at 2pm and La Salle Saturday at 4:30pm at the historic Palestra as part of the Philly Hoop Group Classic.
"We know we have our work cut out for us to become a good team, " Dempsey said, "but we're committed to each other."
(Courtesy of Rider Media Relations)