Rider (14-16) vs. Iona (20-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: MassMutual Center (7,552) -- Springfield, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Rider 6-7, Iona 11-2. Away Record: Rider 6-8, Iona 9-7. Neutral Record: Rider 2-1, Iona 0-0. Conference Record: Rider 9-11, Iona 17-3. Series Record: Iona leads, 29-23.
GAME NOTES: Having dispatched Monmouth in the first round of the 33rd annual Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday night, the eighth- seeded Rider Broncs now turn their attention to top-seeded Iona as they teams battle in the first game of the quarterfinal round at the MassMutual Center this afternoon.
The Broncs, who closed out the regular season with four straight defeats and setbacks in six of the last seven outings, turned it around two nights ago with a 71-60 victory against the Hawks in order to move on in this tournament. Despite the victory, Rider is still below .500 in the event over the years.
As for the Gaels, the defending tournament champions who took down Manhattan last season (60-57) and already own eight trophies from this event, they lost just once during the final 13 games of the regular season and that came in overtime on the road at the aforementioned Jaspers at the end of February. The team finished with a record of 17-3 in league play as it aims to get back to the title game in the tourney for the third time in the last four years.
Not surprisingly, Iona won both meetings this season against the Broncs, the latest coming just last weekend at home in a 97-81 blowout. As far as the all- time series is concerned, the Gaels are now on top by a count of 29-23.
The survivor of this meeting will be back in action on Sunday versus the winner of the Siena/Canisius for the right to take part in the championship round on Monday night.
Against Monmouth, the Broncs fell behind 6-0 right out of the chute, but responded with a 10-0 run of their own, leading to an eight-point edge at the break and the eventual 11-point win in Springfield a couple nights ago. Daniel Stewart led the charge for Riders with 25 points and nine rebounds, followed by Anthony Myles and Jimmie Taylor with 13 and 12 points, respectively. In addition to limiting the Hawks to only 1-of-5 shooting behind the 3-point line, other key factors in the outcome had Rider forcing a massive 21 turnovers and outscoring the league newcomers at the free-throw line by a margin of 24-13.
The Gaels knew what they were getting in Sean Armand, an All-MAAC First-Team member, as he tallied 17.8 ppg, thanks to an impressive 44.0 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line, and also placed second on the unit with 116 assists. A more pleasant surprise was the emergence of A.J. English, a second-year player who is the only non-senior to be named to the All-MAAC First Team, as he dialed up 17.7 ppg and handed out 4.3 apg. English may not have been as accurate as Armand beyond the arc, but knocking down 77 triples still made it tough for opponents to figure out how to defend the youngster from Delaware.
Picking up All-MAAC Second-Team honors was David Laury (14.0 ppg), who stabilized the interior with his 7.7 rpg, while Tre Bowman (13.3 ppg) and Isaiah Williams (10.9 ppg) both had a hand in making Iona the fourth-highest scoring team in the country with a staggering 84.0 ppg.
The Broncs were able to open this tournament on a high note, but beating up on the Hawks is nothing compared to taking the floor against a seasoned group like the Gaels. Unfortunately for Rider, the ride stops here and now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 81, Rider 66
03/08 10:14:34 ET