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Canisius men's basketball can't stop comeback by Rider

Takal Molson didn’t agree with a late foul called against him, and voiced his displeasure. The objection by the sophomore guard on the Canisius men’s basketball team went for naught, and his opponent from Rider calmly stepped to the free-throw line after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Frederick Scott’s three free throws broke a tie with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left in the second half, and helped Rider complete a comeback in an 82-73 win against the Golden Griffins on Friday at the Koessler Athletic Center.

The Rider forward’s three free throws sparked the Bronc's 10-point run in the final minutes. It also helped Rider secure a win in which it rallied from deficits of 14 points in the first half and 13 in the second.

Canisius was smooth, poised and in control in the first half against Rider, but simply unraveled in the second half.

“The second half just wasn’t what we needed to do to complete the game,” Golden Griffins coach Reggie Witherspoon said. “We just turned the ball over too many times (19), in general. A number of them were in the press but some of them were in the half court, and we’ve just got to get better.

“Our poise just wasn’t what it needed to be, and our focus wasn’t what it needed to be. We didn’t sustain that. Everything came undone.”

Scott scored all of his game-high 22 points in the second half, including six points in the final 3:11. But Scott said the foul against Molson and his three successful free throws became the turning point in a second half in which the Broncs switched to a full-court press, which shut down Canisius’ offense from behind the perimeter.

The Golden Griffins went 7-for-11 on 3-pointers in the first half but were only 4-for-18 in the second half.

“The pressure kind of took us out of what we needed to do on the offense end,” said guard Isaiah Reese, who led Canisius with 21 points. “Those are situations that we’ve just got to calm down, try to execute and run everything right at that time.”

Canisius entered the game against Rider averaging 29.5 percent on 3-point field goals (103-349), while Rider entered allowing an average of 10 3-pointers a game. The Broncs have also given up an average of 13 3-pointers in its three previous games.

But poor shooting plagued the Broncs in the first half; they hit only one shot from the floor in a stretch of nearly 10 minutes in the first half and shot only 41 percent (13 for 31) in the first half.

“The first half, we were trying to stay a little more matched up, and then they exploited some of our weaknesses at times, some of our hedging and things," Rider coach Kevin Baggett said.  “Once we started to switch and switch up and understand that Reese and Molson, in particular, are going to be the guys that are going to be looking to shoot the threes, we were there on the catch and kind of pressured them. We were able to slow them down on the 3-point line.”

The shift on defense fueled Rider’s offense.

Rider went on a 12-0 run to cut Canisius’ lead to 53-52 less than 13 minutes into the second half – all on points from Scott -- then took a 54-53 lead on Devine Eke’s layup with 10:37 left, which gave Rider its first lead since it led 15-12 at 5:12 of the first half.

After Scott’s three free throws broke a 63-63 tie with 3:11 left, the Broncs outscored the Golden Griffins 19-10 down the stretch, and Canisius finished 2-for-9 on 3-pointers after tying the game at 63.

“We were in a close-out situation and I didn’t like the call, but stuff happens like that,” Molson said of the foul that sent Scott to the free-throw line. “You’ve just got to move past that, in the midst of the game, but there’s nothing I can really do about that.”

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