Valentine’s Day came three weeks early this year

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jersey

Photo courtesy of Peter G. Borg (Rider University)
Shawn Valentine

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ—Valentine’s Day came three weeks early this year.

Junior Shawn Valentine (Sicklerville, NJ/Phelps) came in off the bench to compile a season-high 11 points and lead the Rider defense that held Canisius to a season-low 46 points.

“Shawn got us started defensively,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, after his Broncs defeated Canisius in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Saturday night. “I thought all of our guys did an awesome job defending tonight. Canisius can really score the ball. Shawn was great in the press and did a great job in the half-court defense.”

The Golden Griffins came into the game averaging 65.7 points per game. “I think the defense was the difference tonight,” Valentine said.

Failure is not getting knocked down, but staying down. To overcome a set-back, you have to get back on the horse.

That is exactly what the Rider Broncs did Saturday night. After losing to first-place Iona on Thursday, the Broncs got back on the horse Saturday.

“Great job by our guys after coming off a loss to Iona, and the fact that Canisius beat Iona last week,” Baggett said. “This was huge for us. We need this win if we want to stay near the top of the league.”

“It was good that we only had one day off after the Iona loss,” said Valentine, a veteran of 84 Rider games. At the other end of the court, Valentine’s dunk with 8:35 left to play gave Rider a 41-27 lead and gave the crowd a reason to get excited. “I was a little surprised about that dunk,” Valentine joked, “and I know Coach Baggs was.”

“Shawn does a lot of good things on the court, especially on the defensive end,” Baggett said, “but I was happy to see him score tonight. I trust him with all of my heart and he did a really good job tonight.”

Rider has now won 11 of its last 14 games. The Broncs are now 6-2 at home, but Rider had lost its last two home games while the students were on winter break. “We needed to get off the losing streak at home,” Baggett said.

The students returned to campus Saturday and once again turned Alumni Gymnasium into a sold out Broncs’ Zoo.

Rider (13-8, 7-3 MAAC) put four players in double figure led by senior Matt Lopez (Erial, NJ/Washington Twp.), who compiled 12 points and eight rebounds.

Canisius (11-8, 6-4 MAAC) used a 13-5 run, five points by Kassius Robertson, to cut the Rider lead to 54-46 with 1:09 left to play. Robertson finished with nine points.

Rider made nine of 10 foul shots in the final 2:19 to preserve the victory. Junior Teddy Okereafor (London, England/VCU) made six (of six) of them and finished with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.

Sophomore Jimmie Taylor (Branford, Fla./Suwannee) was the fourth Bronc in double-figures, adding 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of steals.

Canisius out-scored Rider 12-4, eight points by Zach Lewis, to cut the lead to 41-30 with 8:30 left to play. Lewis finished with a game-high 14 points.

Rider out-scored Canisius 6-2 to end the first half and 15-2 to start the second half, taking a 37-18 lead with 15:25 left to play.

Rider led 22-16 at the half, as both teams shot just 34 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.

“The defense was the difference and we were consistent for 40 minutes on the defensive end,” Baggett said.

On Military Appreciation Night, the Broncs put up a rampart against the Golden Griffins.

Rider will now play an ESPN3 game at Saint Peter’s Thursday, January 29, at 8pm.

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