BRIDGEPORT, CT- After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang out. The Broncs let it all hang out in a game that started Saturday night and ended Sunday morning, less than 16 hours before their next hurdle on the way to the NCAA Tournament.
"You can't worry about those kind of things (late game time)," said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey. "We played Niagara in a 9pm game earlier this year and played well. A lot of people asked me about it but as a group we never even talked about the game time."
Junior Brandon Penn came in off the bench to compile 13 points and seven rebounds and freshman Anthony Myles compiled 13 points in his first collegiate start to lead Rider to victory in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship tournament, held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.
Holding a 51-48 lead, Rider (23-9, 13-5 MAAC) went on a 9-2 run with three consecutive three-point field goals to take a 60-50 lead with 6:09 left to play.
Rider made 10 of 12 foul shots in the final 2:56 to preserve the victory, including four of four by senior Justin Robinson, who also finished with 13 points. Robinson has now made 61 of his last 65 foul shots.
Trailing 43-31, Canisius (15-15, 9-9 MAAC) went on a 17-8 run, six points by Greg Logins, to cut the lead to 51-48, but that was as close as the Golden Griffins could get. Logins finished with 12 points and six rebounds. "At one point it looked like Canisius was going to make a run but guys stepped up and made big shots," Dempsey said.
The victory was Rider's sixth in a row and eighth in the last nine games.
The Broncs out-scored Canisius 10-4 to start the second half, four points by senior Mike Ringgold, to take a 41-29 lead. Ringgold finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
With the score tied at 17-17, Rider went on a 10-2 run, eight points by Penn, to take a 27-19 lead with 3:40 left in the first half and Rider led 31-25 at intermission.
Junior Novar Gadson added 11 points and seven rebounds and freshman Danny Stewart added nine points and five rebounds.
Senior Patrick Mansell came in off the bench and added eight points, making two of three three-pointers and his first two foul shots of the season.
"A lot of guys stepped up,"' Dempsey said, "which is what we needed. It was a real team effort."
The 23 wins ties the Rider program record for wins in a season, set in 2007-08.
Rider and Canisius split their series record this year, with the Broncs winning at Canisius by one point and Canisius winning at Rider by two points.
Rider will now play in the semifinals Sunday at 4pm against the second seed, Iona. It is the fourth straight year that the Broncs reached the MAAC semifinals. "Iona has been playing very good basketball down the stretch," Dempsey said of the Gales, who have won their last eight games. "We're going to have to find a special effort tomorrow."
Make that later today.