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Men's Basketball Edges Canisius, 83-82, To Take Sole Possession of 1st Place in MAAC

(Allen, Ryder)

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Redshirt freshman Dimencio Vaughn (New York, NY/Calloway) had 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals and fellow redshirt freshman Jordan Allen (Dover, DE/Dover) added 19 points as the Rider University men's basketball team edged Canisius, 83-82, Sunday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium. With the win, the Broncs' 10th-straight, Rider takes over sole possession of first place in the MAAC at 21-7 (14-2 MAAC). Canisius (19-10, 13-3 MAAC) saw its six-game winning streak snapped.

The Broncs scored 14 of the first 20 points in the game, but Canisius answered with an 8-0 run. Rider again pushed the lead to nine on two occasions, but the Griffs again had the answer, cutting it to one, 37-36, with 3:39 left in the initial stanza. A pair of Allen free throws with one second left in the half gave the Broncs a four-point cushion at the break.

The Griffs outscored the Broncs, 11-2, to open the second half, creating a 54-49 lead, its first advantage of the game. It was the first of 10 lead changes in the second half. Rider finally went on a 7-0 run, covering just a minute of game time from the 6:11 to 5:12 marks to open a 75-69 lead and never trailed again. Allen opened the run with a three and Stevie Jordan (Bensalem, PA/Conwell-Egan/API) punctuated it with a pair of free throws and a fast-break lay-up following Vaughn's steal.

Canisius wouldn't go away, however, scoring the next five points to cut the Broncs' lead to one on an Isaiah Reese three-pointer. But the Broncs had the answer with a Vaughn putback and two free throws from Allen. The lead remained five until Takal Molson knocked down a left wing three with 1:33 remaining. Following two Anthony Durham (Philadelphia, PA/Abington/Putnam Science) free throws, Reese buried another three with 1:13 left to again cut the Broncs' lead to one.

The Broncs misfired on their next possession, but Allen came up with a steal on the other end. With the game and shot clocks nearly identical, the Broncs played keep away to prevent from being fouled but then turned it over with just over 14 seconds remaining. Following a Canisius timeout, Jordan knocked the ball away to the midcourt stripe and chaos ensued. Reese ended up with the ball and streaked for the basket, but Devine Eke (Plainfield, NJ/Union Catholic [Maine]) got a piece of the shot and it fell harmlessly to the ground as time expired.   

Quotes & Notes
"Huge win. I'm excited for our guys. 10 in a row. Guys made shots when we needed them, defended when we needed them. We didn't always play smart. But (Devine Eke), we found a way to insert him and he does unbelievable things. And then our alpha dog here (Vaughn), who wills us to win, stepped up again."

"Give Reggie (Witherspoon) and his team a lot of credit. Those guys are very good. Reggie's Coach of the Year, in my eyes. That guy coaches his behind off and so I'm just happy we found a way to win today."

"Give our guys credit. We find a way in the end. I always say, champions find ways to win. And these guys are champions. They found a way to win. They stuck together."

[On defeating Canisius and taking over sole possession of first place] "It means a lot. It gives us a chance. We didn't have the tie-breakers had we lost today. So, it means a lot. We control our own destiny. We've got to enjoy it for moment and then get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Monmouth. And no hiccups. I know our guys will be ready and they understand what's at stake. I don't have to remind these guys. They'll come ready to go and we'll take our chances going up to Monmouth."

"When we started this thing in July, they didn't even know how to jump to the ball, let alone defend a ball screen or a back screen or a down screen. And so, to sit back and watch it in the heat of the moment and it all comes to fruition is unbelievable. And that's what, as a coach, makes you happy and proud. I love these guys because they battle for me all year long. I get on them and they'll tell you, I coach them hard. But they understand why – we're trying to get somewhere that we've not been in a long time."

[On whether Vaughn should be in the discussion for MAAC Player of the Year] "If he's not, I'll be disappointed. I know he's a redshirt freshman and, more likely, they're going to go with an upperclassman. I get it. But, you know what? It's not even about the individual awards. It's about us going and winning this league and us getting ourselves into that MAAC Tournament and trying to win a championship. It's about us, that's what it's about. It's not about individual goals. Our goals are the big prizes."  – Rider Head Coach Kevin Baggett

"They're tough. I give them credit. But we still pulled through with our defense. I would say we just know how to get it together as a team when it's time to come down to winning the game."

[On the team jelling] "We were a young team. We didn't really have any team chemistry together. So, this is pretty well for a team that just got together this year, didn't really have any team chemistry and we're doing pretty well."

[On battle with Jermaine Crumpton] "I embrace every challenge I get, always. It doesn't matter who it is to be honest. I'm just here to play ball and get the win." – Rider redshirt freshman Dimencio Vaughn

- Rider now leads the all-time series with Canisius, 35-13.
- Rider's 10-game winning streak is its longest since a 10-game streak in 2007-08.
- Rider has had only four streaks of 10 wins or more in its 90-year history. Its longest winning streak in program history is 16, established in the third year of its existence, 1930-31, while the 1957-58 team won 11 straight. The 10-game winning streak matches streaks enjoyed by the 1983-84 and 2007-08 teams.
- Rider's streak is now the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Vermont (15) and Grambling (11). Michigan State and College of Charleston also currently have 10-game winning streaks. 
- 21 wins match the most in a season under Head Coach Kevin Baggett (21-12 in 2014-15, his second season).
- The 21 wins are tied for the second-most by a Rider team (with the 1993-94 and 2014-15 teams behind the 2007-08 team's 23). In reaching the feat in 28 games, this year's team is the fastest to 21 wins in program history (29 games - 1993-94; 30 games – 2007-08; 31 games – 2014-15).  
- Rider's 14 league wins are the most by a Broncs' team in an 18-game MAAC slate. Four different teams went 13-5, while the 2014-15 Broncs went 15-5 in a 20-game league schedule.
- The Broncs' 14-2 mark in league play is easily its best 16-game start to MAAC competition. Rider's best 18-game league slates have been 13-5 marks in 2001-02, 2004-05, 2007-08 and 2010-11. In a 20-game MAAC schedule in 2014-15, Rider also was 13-5 through 18 league games en route to a program-record 15 MAAC wins (15-5).    
- Rider entered the game at No. 68 in the RPI. Its highest RPI ranking of the season was No. 62.
- Rider returns to action Thursday, when it travels to hOURglass rival Monmouth. Tip-off from the OceanFirst Bank Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Broncs by the Numbers
- Vaughn and Allen were the only Broncs in double figures. However, Jordan and Frederick Scott (Munster, IN/Simeon [DePaul]) each added nine points. Anthony Durham (Philadelphia, PA/Abington/Putnam Science) and Tyrei Randall (Aurora, CO/St. Thomas More) also chipped in with seven points apiece.
- Vaughn tied his career high with four steals.
- The Broncs hit 50.0 percent (27-54) of their shots from the floor, the eighth time in 16 league games that they've hit at least half their attempts.
- With six assists, Jordan gained sole possession of 11th in program history in assists with his 322, passing Barry Spears and Terrance Mouton.
- For the third-straight game, Rider committed 10 or fewer turnovers with 10 today. 

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