GAMES NOTES: In the second leg of a three-game homestand the Rider Broncs will look to extend a five-game winning streak when they host the Canisius Golden Griffins in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference bout at Alumni Gymnasium.
The high-powered Golden Griffins put forth a dominant effort against Siena last Saturday in earning a 76-44 victory. The win was the second straight for Canisius which had hit a rough patch previously with losses in four of its previous five contests. Canisius is now 12-7 overall and at 5-3 sits at fifth in the MAAC standings. The Golden Griffins are 4-6 on the road this season but won't be away long as they host Niagara next.
A 67-62 victory in a critical matchup with Iona last Sunday earned Rider its fifth straight victory. The winning streak has lifted Rider to 11-9 overall and into a three-way tie with Loyola-Maryland and the Gaels for second place in the MAAC. The win was part of this current three-game homestand, which continues against Manhattan on Sunday.
Rider has dominated the all-time series between these conference foes. The Broncs have a 28-7 all-time record against Canisius with wins in each of the last three contests.
Canisius completely dominated Siena last Saturday. The Golden Griffins forced 20 turnovers and held the Saints to just 32.7 percent shooting in the contest. The turnovers led to a 29-3 edge for Canisius in points off takeaways. Canisius also beat up on Siena inside with a 40-16 edge in points in the paint.
After being one of the worst offensive teams in the conference last season under first year head coach Jim Baron, Canisius has transformed into one of the best. The Golden Griffins are putting in 73.6 points per game, which ranks third in the conference, while shooting the second best percentage from the field (.442). The Golden Griffins also rank second in the conference in assists (14.1 pg) and rebounds (35.2 pg). Baron's son Billy (16.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.7 apg) has been a huge reason after he came over with his dad from Rhode Island. The 6-foot-2 guard leads the conference in assists and is fifth in the conference in scoring. Harold Washington (13.3 ppg) and Isaac Sosa (12.7 ppg) are also scoring in double figures, while Chris Manhertz (6.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is second in the MAAC in rebounding.
Rider was clinging to a 51-50 lead with just under two minutes remaining against Iona. The Broncs then ripped off a 6-0 spurt in the final minutes to pull away for the win. Rider's 17-8 edge in second-chance points and 27-15 edge from beyond the arc helped the Broncs overcome 18 turnovers.
Four different players are scoring in double figures for the Broncs this season. Anthony Myles (12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is the top offensive option and has scored in double figures in a team-high six straight games entering this contest. Jonathon Thompson (11.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg) is the second option and has averaged 17.3 points per game in the last three outings. Danny Stewart (10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) adds scoring, while serving as the team's top rebounder. All three will need to step it up on Friday with Nurideen Lindsey (10.2 ppg) likely sidelined for a third straight game with a concussion. Overall Rider has just a +1.3 scoring margin on the season, while being the fourth-best scoring team in the MAAC (65.4 ppg).
Led by Baron, Canisius has the type of offensive firepower to compete every time it hits the floor. With Rider down one of its better offensive options, the Broncs might not be able to keep up.