The Rider men’s basketball team had some work to do, but it’s back to .500.
Mervyn James had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Ajiri Ogemuna-Johnson had a career-high 19 and the Broncs beat Division I newcomer Stonehill 78-67 on Wednesday night at Merkert Gymnasium in North Easton, Massachusetts.
“It was great to see these guys play the way they did,” coach Kevin Baggett said. “We’re going to need those guys to play that way more often. I think they’re starting to get back on track.”
The frontcourt duo combined for 42 points, 22 rebounds and eight assists as Rider (4-4) won its third straight and second straight on the road.
“We got the ball in the right hands at the right time,” said James, who set a new Raider career high and is two points shy of his all-time best he set at North Alabama. “Coach is making the right plays and it’s all about execution and staying with any group of guys on the court.”
That was basically the starting five on Wednesday night.
Dwight Murray Jr. finished with 20 points — his eighth straight game without 17 or more — and the starting five accounted for all but four of the team’s points. Allen Betran scored all seven points in the final 4:10 as part of a 14-2 run that put the Broncs in control after the second half.
“It’s my bench that has to come together,” Baggett said. “Those coming off the bench should help more. We should be able to give these guys a break. … We have to be able to trust those guys to come in and do the right thing, and we’re struggling with that part right now.”
What Ryder did well was rebound and score in the paint. He finished with a 43-28 advantage on the glass and a 38-18 advantage in points.
Ogemuna-Johnson and James combined for the Broncs’ first 12 points of the second half to put them back in front after the Skyhawks (4-7) led for most of the first 20 minutes thanks to a 9-of-23 shooting half. (hosts finished 13-for-33 on 3s).
“I’m just playing my game, finding the open spot,” Ogemuna-Johnson said. “I told myself at the beginning to just attack, forget about everything else and just play.”