Despite a 5-6 record in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games, Rider may be the hottest right now of the league’s men’s basketball teams.
Canisius experienced first-hand the explosiveness of the Broncs on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 79-68 decision in Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J.
Rider shot 57.4 percent for the game, and 53.3 (8 of 15) from three-point range in handing the Griffs their third straight loss. The Broncs have won three in a row and five of their last six games.
With home-and-home games left with first-place Monmouth as well as Manhattan and Niagara and a return game at Canisius, the Broncs may be a factor in the battle for favorable MAAC playoff seedings the second half of the season.
Canisius (10-13, 5-7 MAAC) led only once in the game, 2-0. It was Rider the rest of the way, including a 13-point advantage early in the second half. Canisius did close to 64-62 after a three-pointer by Germaine Crumpton with 5:42 left. However, the Griffs turned the ball over on their next two possessions and fell back to 70-62. The Griffs got within six points with 1:25 to go after a jump shot by Kassius Robertson but Rider closed it out by making five of seven free throws.
“Rider is a good team. They started slow this season, but they have a lot of veteran leadership and they seemed to get every loose ball today,” said Canisius coach Jim Baron. “We got down early and the crowd was really into it, but our guys didn’t put their heads down and they kept battling.
“Obviously, those back-to-back turnovers really hurt us, and it gave them all the momentum the rest of the way.”
Kahlil Thomas, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, led Rider with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Teddy Okereafor had 20 points, including 12 from three-point range.
Robertson led the Griffs with 24 points. Crumpton added 20 and Malcolm McMillan 12 for Canisius.
McMillan scored on a layup with 18:08 left to play to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career, including three seasons at Central Connecticut State. Canisius made 18 of 20 free throws in the second half and was 21 of 24 overall.
The Canisius women’s team (9-11, 4-7) will face Iona at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Koessler Center. The visiting Gaels (13-9, 9-2) will be trying to pull into a tie for first place in the MAAC with Marist (11-11, 10-2).
The Griffs snapped a losing steak at three games by winning at Niagara, 68-66, last Thursday. Iona defeated Niagara, 73-52, at the Gallagher Center on Saturday. The Gaels topped Canisius, 79-56, in New Rochelle last month.
The Gaels are led by forward Joy Adams, who is averaging 14.3 points and 11.6 rebounds, and guard Marina Lizarazu (11.4 ppg).