Rider 68, Niagara 59
How Rider Won: Very rarely will you see a team come into the Gallagher Center and better Niagara's toughness. The Broncs did it. They challenged everything on the defensive end, and the physical style made it a miserable night for Niagara scoring leader Antoine Mason (7 points, 1 of 12 from the field). Rider also got big threes from Tommy Pereira and Jonathon Thompson during a 13-0 second-half run that settled the issue.
Player of the Game: Thompson, a senior who averages 12.5 points, was sensational. He killed Niagara off the drive, buried three treys and got to the foul line nine times while scoring 25 points. That's one shy of his career high.
Best Supporting Role: Junior forward Daniel Stewart owned the inside and scored 14 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Best Player (Losing Effort): Juan'ya Green did everything to keep Niagara close, scoring 27 points. No one else reached double figures.
Stat Check: Points in the paint favored Rider, 34-22.
Stat Check II: Only four of Niagara's 20 field goals were assisted.
Stat Check III: Niagara's comeback effort was undermined by its free throw shooting -- 10 of 19 in the second half.
What It Means: Niagara remains in first place, a half-game ahead of Loyola, but will need a Loyola loss this weekend to have a chance at the title. Rider remains tied with Canisius for third, a half-game behind Loyola.
In the House: There were 1,948 at the Taps.
They Said It
Juan'ya Green on Niagara's frustration: "We shouldn't have got that way. We started talking to each other and started getting frustrated at each other. It shouldn't have got that way. We should have just came together and played through it."
Mihalich: "I'm not going to publicly call anybody out but our interior defense was . . . Stewart did whatever he wanted. I mean, Stewart just did whatever he wanted."
Rider coach Kevin Baggett: "I'd say we match up well with those guys. We have a number of guys that can sit down and play defense and match up, and we do a good job preparing for this group. When it comes down to conference play everybody kind of knows what different teams are going to run, it just comes down to executing and we've done a better job in terms of trying to stop them being able to get to where they need to get to on the court and what they're looking to get out of their offense as well."
Next Up: Niagara finishes out the regular season hosting Saint Peter's at 3 p.m. Saturday. Rider moves on to Canisius for a 2 p.m. game. The winner of that one finishes no worse than third in the final standing.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Niagara