Rider (2-4) at Monmouth (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 5, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The MAC (7.697) -- West Long Branch, New Jersey. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Rider 0-1, Monmouth 2-1. Away Record: Rider 1-2, Monmouth 1-3. Neutral Record: Rider 1-1, Monmouth 0-0. Conference Record: Rider 0-0, Monmouth 0-0. Series Record: Rider leads, 23-15.
GAME NOTES: The Monmouth Hawks will try to get back to .500 on the season when they take on the Rider Broncs in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference battle at the MAC.
Rider is playing in its first game since taking part in the Cable Car Classic last weekend. The Broncs split their two contests in that tournament, topping Rice in overtime (97-93) before losing to North Dakota State (87-80). The setback was the second in three games for the Broncs, who are just 2-4 overall. Rider will play just its second home game of the season next time out against Quinnipiac.
After winning its season opener, Monmouth lost four straight games. However, the Hawks have recovered of late with wins in back-to-back games to start a three-game homestand. Monmouth's most recent triumph came over North Carolina A&T (76-61). Monmouth is on the road in its next two games against Manhattan and St. Francis Brooklyn.
These Garden State rivals have faced off 38 times previously with Rider holding the all-time series lead, 23-15. The Broncs have won the last six meetings, including a 65-62 victory a year ago. This matchup is the first time these teams have met as MAAC foes as Monmouth made the transition to the league this year.
In its loss to North Dakota State, Rider did not play well enough on the defensive end to secure a victory. The Broncs allowed their foes to shoot at a 61.5 percent rate from the field during the course of the game. Anthony Myles netted 23 points in the losing effort.
Poor defense has been the weakness for the Broncs early on. Rider is allowing 82.7 points per game on 53.5 percent shooting from the field. It is too bad considering the Broncs are one of the better teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on the offensive end. The Broncs lead the league in field goal percentage (.459) and are third in scoring (78.3 pg). Myles (18.7 ppg) can be counted on to light up the scoreboard at an accelerated rate whenever he hits the floor. Myles' effort against North Dakota State was his second- straight 20-point showing. Daniel Stewart (14.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Jimmie Taylor (11.7 ppg) are the other members of the team averaging in double figures.
Although the final score makes it look like an easy victory, Monmouth actually struggled with NC A&T. The Hawks hit on only 26.9 percent of their shots from the floor in the first 20 minutes and went into the break tied, 31-31. After intermission the Hawks finally found themselves and by netting 50 percent from the floor they were able to pull away.
Inefficient shooting has hurt the Hawks this season. Although they are scoring an even 70 points per game, they are only shoot at a 39.5 percent clip. Deon Jones (18.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is a potent scorer for the Hawks that gives them a counterpart to Myles in this matchup. Jones finished with 27 points against NC A&T, though he needed an 18-of-19 performance at the free-throw line to collect that total. Like Myles, Jones has also had 20 points in the last two games and in four altogether this season. Jones doesn't have as much help as Myles though, with the only other double-figure scorer on the roster being Andrew Nicholas (14.6 ppg).
Despite their defensive deficiencies the Broncs are a team that can score. The Hawks just don't have the same type of firepower.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rider 76, Monmouth 71
12/05 10:32:47 ET