JERSEY CITY, NJ – Saint Peter's men's basketball redshirt senior guard Cavon Baker (Queens, NY/New Hope Academy [Md.] (Houston)) scored 16 of the Peacocks 33 second half points in a 56-51 second half comeback win against hOURglass rival Rider University on Monday night in Jersey City. The Peacocks trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half before sparking the comeback rally, outscoring the Broncs 31-12 over the final 15 minutes of the game, improving their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) record to 7-3, and overall record to 11-9. The win also gives Saint Peter's the season sweep over Rider for the first time since the 2005-06 season and first time ever under John Dunne.
"I am really excited for our guys, really excited for our team," said head coach John Dunne. "Just a great win. It's probably one of the most exciting second halves, and its right up there with a lot of the wins I have been a part of as an assistant coach and as a head coach. The fact that we have played five games in nine days in no joke and down 14, to have the comeback that we had, I thought that clearly Cavon Baker was the catalyst to get us going in the second half. Nick (Griffin) kept us in the game to start the game and obviously hit the three late. That being said, I thought our team really committed to playing team first basketball. I thought our energy was great offensively. I thought we moved the ball really really well. Really a lot of the second half wasn't pretty and neither team shot the ball great, but at the end of the day, five games in nine days to get this win we feel really really good."
The Peacocks surrendered the first six points of the night, falling behind 6-0, but Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/Col. Zadok Magruder (George Washington)) drained three straight three-point jumpers to give the Peacocks their only lead of the half at 9-8. Rider answered with an 11-2 run, extending their lead over the Peacocks to 19-11 with 8:42 on the first half clock. Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) stopped the run with a layup at 7:49, cutting the deficit to 19-13. The Peacocks would eventually fall behind 24-15, giving Rider its largest lead, of nine, up to that point. A jumper by Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY / Lafayette Educational Complex) and a Chazz Patterson (Browns Mills, NJ / Trenton Catholic) layup got the Peacocks back to within six (26-20), but Rider got the lead back up to nine by the half, leading 32-23.
In the early goings of the second half, Rider extended its lead to double digits for the first time, at 36-25 after a three ball by Xavier Lundy. Rider added a three-point play by Kahlil Thomas to extend the lead to its largest of the night at 14 points with a 39-25 lead with 15:41 remaining.
From that point, the Peacock's 31-12 run began starting with Quadir Welton's (Philadelphia, PA/Math, Civics and Science Charter) layup to stop Rider's run and cut the score to 39-27. Baker added three free throws after he was fouled in the act of shooting from the near corner, cutting the deficit to 41-30. Wyche then scored on a left handed layup, to bring the Peacocks back within single digits with just over 12 minutes to play, making the score, 41-32. Rider added a made layup to extend the lead back over 10 points, but Baker answered on the ensuing drive with a three ball from Wyche cutting the deficit to, 43-35, and Baker followed with another trifecta from an Idowu steal and assists making the score, 43-38, with 10:20 on the clock, forcing Rider into a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Peacocks forced Rider into a traveling violation, leading to two made free throws by Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) on the other end after a Rider foul, making it a three point game (43-40). After another Rider foul, Portley returned to line adding two more charity stripe baskets, bringing the Peacocks within just one point of the Broncs (43-42). Both teams added layups, keeping Rider ahead, 45-44 with just over five minutes remaining.
Following a missed free throw by the Broncs, Baker recovered the defensive rebound and scored the go-ahead three-pointer with 4:44 on the clock to give the Peacocks a 47-45 edge, their first lead since leading 9-8 in the first half. Griffin added a corner trey, extending Saint Peter's lead to 50-45, with three minutes left.
Rider cut Saint Peter's lead to 50-48 after with just over one minute remaining, making it a one-possession game again. On the next Peacock possession, Baker got free at the top of the key where he missed a jumper but with no box out, he quickly followed his shot securing the offensive rebound and scoring on a put back tip in, making it a two possession game at 52-48 with 43 seconds left. On the next Rider drive, Griffin forced a steal, leading to Wyche getting put on the free throw line where he knocked in both free throw shots, giving Saint Peter's the 54-48 advantage with 30 seconds left. Rider did not go away quietly as Jimmie Taylor hit a quick three, to bring it back to one possession but after the Rider foul, Baker sealed Rider's fate, draining both free throws, securing the 56-51 victory.
Overall, the Peacocks outscored Rider, 33-19 in the second half, holding Rider to just six made field goals on 27.3 percent shooting in the second half. Baker set a new season-high and career-best in a Saint Peter's jersey with his 16 points, which all came in the second half. Griffin also scored in double figures, posting 12 points. Welton added nine points and a team-high six rebounds in the win. Rider had four of their five starters score in double figures in the losing effort.
The Peacocks return to the road on Thursday, when the squad heads to Poughkeepsie, NY to face Marist on January 26 at 7:30p.m. The Peacocks have now won five of their last six and seven of their last 10 games.