Runners’ men’s basketball drops to 1-4 in MAAC after loss to Saint Peter’s – Trentonian
LAWRENCEVILLE — Dimencio Vaughn has played in enough Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference competition to know how unpredictable the league can be from game to game, so he’s not going to panic even if Rider remains in a rut of a season that has mostly been its own doing.
What he does know is that the Broncs need to play harder for 40 consistent minutes if they want to get out of this hole.
A 58-51 loss to Saint Peter’s on Sunday afternoon at the Alumni Gymnasium in which Rider never led was more or less the first 15 games of the season wrapped up in a 40-minute package.
The Broncs (5-10, 1-4) played hard for 20 minutes — they cut a 14-point halftime deficit to three with more than enough time remaining to come back and win — but didn’t ultimately couldn’t make enough plays on the stretch, while the opponent made just enough to wonder how another winnable play ended in defeat.
“We have to take that losing anxiety out of some guys,” Vaughn said. “It takes over people’s mentalities and once you fear losing it becomes a problem. Once we eliminate this anxiety, nothing else can stop us.
Vaughn was pretty tough in 36 minutes. He recorded his fourth consecutive double-double in MAAC action with 16 points and 10 rebounds. When he netted his fifth steal in the second half – the 189th of his career – he passed Ryan Thompson and Stevie Jordan to become the program’s all-time leader.
“Forget the record, as long as it helps the school record – like a real win,” Vaughn said. “I’m blessed but honestly it’s not really helping us so whatever I need to do to make it better. Go to the lab with coaches (and) do it well with my teammates.
For the most part, Vaughn did the things in his comeback season that endeared him to Rider fans — and sometimes frustrated his coaches: Seeing six turnovers — but the Broncs still need more from not only him but from everyone.
Dwight Murray Jr. and Allen Powell’s starting backcourt shot 4 for 20, while Powell – 17 points in Friday night’s overtime loss to Quinnipiac – was held scoreless, Mervin James committed a foul for the seventh time in 15 games, the team had 19 turnovers and shot 2 for 11 from beyond the arc.
It’s just not a winning formula.
“I still think it’s an ongoing process,” coach Kevin Baggett said. “We have to keep improving and learning from our mistakes. We watch them (on film). … All we can do is keep training them and improving them in training.
SPU (5-6, 3-1) closed the first half on a 13-2 run to climb into double digits, although Rider quickly cut that in half by scoring the first seven points of the second half. time. The score sat at 38-33 for what felt like forever until Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson’s layup brought the Broncs down to within three at 12:48, but it was that close. they approached.
The Peacocks got key baskets from KC Ndefo, Fousseyni Drame and Matthew Lee on three straight offensive trips in the final three minutes to deny Rider the crucial saves he needed.
“We had some shots that weren’t the shots I was looking for,” Baggett said. “I wouldn’t say they were bad shots, but we had to go down and take our time. We had to defend them for most of the ball possession, then we got down and shot quickly. It benefits them and does not help us.
The Broncs now face a three-game road trip — a catch-up game at Quinnipiac on Wednesday followed by the trip to Buffalo next weekend — and as daunting as that sounds on paper, Vaughn knows things can turn quickly in the wacky MAAC.
“Just prepare for the next game,” Vaughn said. “Be ready to be criticized, accept criticism and own it. You’re not perfect, but if you want to improve, you have to want to. You have to want to be better. You can’t just ask someone to one of trying to make yourself better, you have to want to be better.
Notes: Vaughn’s 16 points gives him 1,438 in his career and moved Daniel Stewart (1,436) to 15th all-time. Next on the list is Stevie Jordan, his former teammate, who finished with 1,444. …Murray finished with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting and limped out of the game with 33 seconds left after getting crushed on the table under the basket. … Doug Edert was the only SPU player to score in double figures with 12 points, including four from the free throw line in the final 29.8 seconds to put the game away. … Former Trenton Catholic Academy star Latrell Reid started and had two runs in 13 minutes for the Peacocks.