Broncs clinch MAAC regular season men's basketball title
The Rider University men's basketball team clinched a share of the MAAC Regular Season Championship and the top seed in the MAAC Tournament with a win over Iona Sunday afternoon at Alumni Gym.
The Broncs shot a season-high 61.4 percent and scored a season-high 110 points in the 110-101 win, closing out the regular season at 22-8 (15-3 MAAC). The team share the Championship with Canisius (15-3).
"I'm proud of the fact that these guys have worked so hard all year long and they were rewarded by winning the conference," says Head Coach Kevin Baggett. "I couldn't be more proud."
The MAAC Regular Season Championship is the Broncs' fourth in 21 years in the league and just the second time Rider has taken the No. 1 seed in the MAAC Tournament.
Dimencio Vaughn scored a team-high 26 points and added six rebounds, while Tyere Marshall posted his team-leading seventh double-double with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Anthony Durham posted a new career-high with 17 points, while Kealen Washington-Ives and Frederick Scott also had 15 points apiece.
"This team is tough. We don't give in to nobody. That's just not us. We're hungry. We're trying to prove something," says Vaughn, a redshirt freshman.
On Sunday, the Broncs used an early 10-0 run to create early separation and Washington-Ives scored Rider's final 10 points in the period to push the advantage to 17 at the halftime break. The lead would gradually swell to as many as 26 with 8:50 remaining in regulation. The Gaels methodically whittled the Broncs' lead down to single digits with 22 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late as the Broncs closed out the victory.
Along with the top seed in the MAAC Tournament, Rider clinched an automatic berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), should it fall in the MAAC Tournament and not claim an NCAA Tournament bid.
"The last time we went to the NIT was 1998, so we at least have that in our pocket," Baggett says. "But our biggest goal is to go up to Albany and cut those nets down this next week coming up."
Rider will face the winner of Thursday's MAAC Championship first round match-up (5 p.m.) between eighth-seeded Monmouth and ninth-seeded Saint Peter's. The quarterfinal game will be played Friday at 7 p.m. at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.
Rider Athletics has tickets to all of the Broncs' games during the MAAC Championship in Albany and you can purchase them online at gobroncstix.com or by calling the Rider Athletics Ticket Office at 609-896-5054.
The day after the Broncs clinched the top spot, the men's basketball team earned four All-MAAC selections, headlined by All-MAAC First Team selection Dimencio Vaughn. Joining Vaughn are Stevie Jordan on the Second Team and both Frederick Scott and Jordan Allen on the Third Team.