FACTS & STATS: Site: Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center (300) -- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: Rider 2-1, Milwaukee 2-0. Away Record: Rider 0-2, Milwaukee 0-2. Neutral Record: Rider 1-0, Milwaukee 0-1. Conference Record: Rider 0-0, Milwaukee 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Rider Broncs and the Milwaukee Panthers will close out their stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Sunday afternoon with a consolation-round matchup in the Hoops for Hope Classic.
Rider began the season by winning two of its first three games at home before entering the preliminary rounds of the tournament. The Broncs lost to South Carolina (88-76) and SMU (83-70), but they still earned a trip to Mexico to partake in the consolation bracket, where they defeated Jacksonville on Friday, 86-71.
Milwaukee has lost all three of its game in the tournament, dropping a pair of preliminary-round matchups to South Carolina (82-75) and Arkansas-Little Rock (59-43), and then fell to Jacksonville in the consolation round on Saturday, 71-66. Outside of this tournament, the Panthers are 2-0, with wins over University of Mary (76-46) and Davidson (73-68).
This bout represents the first-ever meeting between these two squads on the hardwood.
Rider got down early in the first half against Jacksonville, but got rolling midway through the frame and ended up leading by double digits for much of the rest of the game. It saved its best offensive effort for its trip to Mexico, draining 52.6 percent of its field goal attempts, including 50 percent of its three-point tries (9-of-18) en route to the 86-point effort. Anthony Myles was the catalyst in the win with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Jonathon Thompson (18 points, six rebounds, six assists) and Nurideen Lindsey (10 points, four assists) rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Broncs. It's been a modest start to the season for their shooting attack, as they have made 44.8 percent of their field goal attempts through six games. Lindsay leads the team with 16.7 ppg on better than 57 percent shooting from the floor, but he's been plagued by 34 turnovers against only 15 assists. Myles (14.3 ppg) and Thompson (11.7 ppg, 4.0 apg) have also been effective in the early going.
Milwaukee dug itself a 14-point hole at the half against Jacksonville, and while it managed to climb back in to make it a three-point game in the final minute, it could not finish off the comeback. The club shot 24-of-55 from the field, but just nine of those field goals came in the first half, and it was only 2-of-11 from three-point range. Demetrius Harris tallied a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Jordan Aaron scored a game-high 19 points, but he hurt his team with six turnovers. Thierno Niang and James Haarsma each chipped in with 10 points. On the season, the Panthers have not been all that impressive shooting the ball, making just 40.2 percent of their field goal attempts, which has spoiled a solid start on the defensive end of the court (.396 field goal percentage defense). Aaron has been rock-solid in the early going with 19.0 ppg while shooting 15-of-35 from three-point range, and he also dishes out a team-high 4.4 apg. Harris (12.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) shoots 48 percent from the floor and chips in a block and a steal per game as well.
Milwaukee has run into a some hard luck and bad timing in this tournament, but it is a much better team than it has shown in the early going. Expect the Panthers to finally put it all together for a full 40 minutes.