Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Rider men's basketball team will host first place Iona College Wednesday night on ESPN3. The tip is scheduled for 7pm in Alumni Gymnasium. At halftime 218 Rider student-athletes will be honored for their high grade point averages as part of Academic Achievement Night.
The Broncs won five out of six games and eight of their last 12 before suffering a controversial loss at Niagara Saturday afternoon. In that game the officials, game clock operator and instant replay operator all suffered from the inability to "manage their responsibilities in the expected manner," according to the MAAC, costing Rider the victory.
Rider is 6-4 at home this season and has all three of its remaining MAAC games in the Broncs' Zoo. Rider has won 148 of its last 204 games in Alumni Gym, a winning percentage of .725.
The Broncs have been led by a trio of seniors, Jeff Jones (12.9 ppg), Brandon Penn (12.6 ppg) and Novar Gadson (10.2). Jones is averaging 13.7 ppg over his last seven games, Penn is averaging 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds over his last 15 games and Gadson needs 63 points to rank in the top 10 all-time at Rider in both scoring and rebounding. The Thompson brothers, Jason '08 and Ryan '10, are the only Broncs to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
Iona is ranked ninth in the CollegeInsider Mid-Major Top 25 poll. The Gaels have won five of their last six games, including an 83-74 win over Marist on Sunday. In that game Mike Glover had 25 points and Scott Machado had a 'triple double' with 10 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds.
In the battle for first place Iona lost to Loyola 87-81 on Friday. In that game Loyola led by 25 points early in the second half before Iona came roaring back. Loyola went on to lose to fourth place Fairfield, so Iona and Loyola are again tied for first, as the two teams split their series this year.
The Gaels lead the MAAC in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, assists and three-point field goals made. Senior guard Scott Machado leads the nation in assists. Senior forward Mike Glover is second in the nation in field goal percentage and leads the MAAC in scoring and is second in the conference in rebounding.
Rider is second in the MAAC in scoring, three-point field goals made and overall field goal percentage, and is third in three-point field goal percentage and assists.
Rider and Iona have met 48 times since the series began in 1949-50, with Rider winning 22, including seven of the last 13. The Broncs lost 91-71 at Iona on ESPN3 on January 26. Rider and Iona split the series last year, with the away team winning both games, by four points in overtime at Rider and by two points at Iona. The Gales defeated Rider in the MAAC tournament semifinals last season.
Iona lost two championship games last year. The second seed in the MAAC Tournament, Iona was upset by the fourth seed, Saint Peter's in the MAAC Title Game, 62-57. In the CIT Iona defeated Valparaiso, Buffalo and East Tennessee State before losing to Santa Clara in the Title Game.
Rider is 14-18 vs. Iona since joining the MAAC, 13-16 in regular season games.
The Broncs take a break from conference play for the final road game of the season, traveling to the University at Albany for the Sears BracketBuster game February 18.