Saturday, December 31, 2011
Seawolves Ring in the New Year on a High Note (Recap of Rider vs. Stony Brook)
The Seawolves were trying to win their second game in a row in a string of three straight contests at Pritchard Gym. On Monday, they start conference play at home vs. Vermont. Stony Brook was looking to keep the momentum against a Rider team that has struggled on the season. The Broncs were coming into the night having won two games in a row after losing ten of their first eleven. This season has been a far cry from last season for Coach Tommy Dempsey as the Broncs were 23-11 last season and finished third in the MAAC with a 13-5 conference record.
Pritchard Gym wasn't as filled as it was for the Wednesday night game against Cornell. But there was still a solid crowd and a lot of kids would be a part of the Cotton Eyed Joe dance performance later on in the evening. The crowd would also be treated to another solid Stony Brook performance as well.
Rider rallied to cut the lead to 16-12 as Virginia transfer Jeff Jones buried two three pointers. Jones played three seasons at Charlottesville, but decided to transfer to Rider probably due to a lack of playing time. Watching him hit five shots from beyond the arc on the night, you could see he certainly is a high level talent. Unfortunately he waited three seasons before making his decision. Now he only has this season left to play.
But the Seawolves run also came due in large part to the hardest working player in the America East, Tommy Brenton. Watching Brenton hustle all over the court, force turnovers and see him work the glass is an absolute treat. He is only six foot five, but he plays like he is six foot nine on the boards. He started the run with a jumper and kept one possession alive with an offensive rebound, one of his twelve rebounds on the night.
Rider went into the half down 37-19. They only had twenty shots in the first half while Stony Brook had thirty three. A lot of this was due to the Seawolves having nine offensive rebounds and forcing ten Broncs' turnovers. Meanwhile, Stony Brook only had one turnover in the first half. Ball possession is always key in basketball and the Seawolves did an excellent job of that in the first twenty minutes.
But Stony Brook stretched the lead back out to sixteen, 52-36 with 11:15 left as back to back three pointers by Bryan Dougher and Dave Coley. It meant Rider would have to work hard again to get the lead back to single digits, eating up precious time and effort. The Broncs would get as close as nine points, 59-50 with a little less than seven minutes left, as four of their last five baskets in that time frame were three pointers.
But that was the only disappointment on the evening for the Seawolves, as they would score twenty of the last thirty two points in the game to win 79-62. And it was a team effort as four Stony Brook players scored in double figures led by Coley, who had sixteen points. Dallas Joyner had fifteen points while Dougher scored fourteen and Al Rapier added twelve points. Brenton just missed a double double with nine points and twelve rebounds. Rider was led by Jones' seventeen points, Stewart added eleven and Brandon Penn had a double double with ten points and eleven rebounds.
The other team, Rider, left wondering what has happened in the span of several months. They had eleven losses all last season. Now they have as many losses this season after just fourteen games. Coach Tommy Dempsey must be shaking his head at this moment in disbelief
As for Rider's sudden turnaround, all I can think is what Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall once said in an interview with Kyle Whelliston, "The game will hurt you".