Rider seeks first victory against St. John’s

NCAA Basketball

It would behoove Rider to get off to a good start Tuesday night when it visits New York to face St. John’s.

The Broncs will be playing only their second game, and this one was arranged less than a week ago when St. John’s was looking to replace a canceled game against Fordham.

In its opener on Saturday, Rider (0-1) fell behind host Syracuse by double digits only about three minutes into the game on the way to an 87-52 loss. The Orange, who are averaging 82 points per game, shot 54.9 percent from the floor and 50 percent (15 of 30) on 3-point attempts.

Broncs coach Kevin Baggett doesn’t want to see that again against St. John’s (4-1), which also enters the game averaging 82 points a game.

“That’s not an identity that I want to have, and that’s not a stat that I want to show up on the sheet every night that teams are shooting a high percentage against us from the 3-point line,” Baggett said.

Rider was the preseason pick to finish last in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and brought back only four players from last year’s team. The highest scorer among that group was guard Christian Ings, at 4.9 points per game last season.

The Broncs are looking for points from guard Dwight Murray Jr., a transfer from Incarnate Word. Murray averaged just under 10 points a season ago but tallied 20 with six rebounds against Syracuse. Ings was next-highest with nine.

The backcourt can’t do it all, said Baggett, who is in his ninth season at Rider.

“We need a post presence or we’re going to be very perimeter-oriented, which has not been our identity here,” Baggett said. “We got to be more in the paint. … I don’t care if it’s Syracuse or St. John’s, we got to have a presence down there.”

The Red Storm also are led on offense by guards Julian Champagnie at 23.3 points per game and Greg Williams Jr. at 13.4. But three others also average in double figures.

St. John’s needed most of the first half to gain separation from Stony Brook in an 89-66 win on Sunday. Williams, who scored a game-high 21 points, netted nine points in the final 3:55 before halftime as the Red Storm turned a two-point deficit into a 14-point lead.

Coach Mike Anderson was happy to see Williams take over.

The coach said that Williams, who has somewhat “deferred a little bit” this season, “was more assertive. … It was his day to step up.

“But it wasn’t just his scoring. … He ended up with six steals, but he was active everywhere, touching balls, rebounding, making great passes.”

–Field Level Media

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