Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tommy Pereira's career night helps Rider win foruth straight

JERSEY CITY — Tommy Pereira sure made the most of his opportunity.

Filling in for the injured Nurideen Lindsey, Pereira scored a career-high 17 points in his first career start, helping Rider to a 66-54 victory over St. Peter’s Thursday night in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest at the Yanitelli Center.

Pereira hit five 3s, including a pair from long range in the second half that helped spark a 9-0 run in which the Broncs grabbed the lead for good.

“When coach called my name, I was ready to go,” said Pereira, who found out he was going to start two days ago after Lindsey suffered a concussion Tuesday in practice.

“Excitement, nervous, you know, first career start,” said the junior guard from England. “I just wanted to go out there and play carefree — just play with confidence.”

From the time the Peacocks led 37-35, Rider outscored them 22-8, taking a 12-point lead on Jon Thompson’s layup with 3:30 remaining.

The Broncs (10-9, 5-2) won four in a row for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 season — a streak that reached six straight and included a victory over Canisius in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament.

The 5-2 start in conference play is the best since beginning the 2007-08 season 11-2.

“When you win, the confidence starts to flourish,” said coach Kevin Baggett. “You’re seeing it from a bunch of guys. They enjoy playing with each other and it’s a good group to be around.”

St. Peter’s (6-11, 1-6) dropped its fifth straight.

Baggett said Lindsey is still day-to-day and will be evaluated again before the team faces Iona Sunday afternoon at Alumni Gymnasium.

Pereira filled in admirably, logging a career-high 27 minutes, while shooting 6 of 10 from the field.

He even had a laugh afterward.

“I was,” Pereira admitted when asked if he was a little winded from all the minutes.

“I missed my first two and I didn’t want to get down on myself like I have in the past few games,” he added. “Once I got my third then my fourth, it all just came to me. I was playing with bags of confidence.”

His teammates also have faith him, knowing he can get hot from the perimeter.

“(Tommy) shows glimpses of it in practice,” said guard Anthony Myles, who finished with 12 points of his own. “We all trust him. We know he has the potential to be great. When he gets out, there is no drop off.”

Thompson added 10 points, including a thunderous dunk to put an exclamation on the victory. Danny Stewart chipped in eight points and nine rebounds.

Yvon Raymond had 15 points and Chris Burke added 11 for St. Peter’s.

The Broncs shot 51.1 percent and outrebounded the Peacocks 35-20.

“We were focusing on defensive stops and rebounds,” Myles said. “We wanted to limit second-chance opportunities for them.”

In the first half, Thompson picked up two quick fouls, limiting him to seven minutes and Stewart, coming off a week in which he averaged 22.5 points per game, had two baskets.

Despite that, and 2 of 8 from the free-throw line, Rider led, 30-27, at halftime, taking its first lead when Pereira knocked down a 3 with 2:12 left.

Junior Fortunat’s putback with 30.5 seconds remaining provided the final points of the half as the Broncs scored nine of the final 13.

St. Peter’s scored the first seven points, but Thompson battled through the foul trouble and hit back-to-back 3s, sparking an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to 17-16.

“When you come to St. Peter’s — the record may not reflect it — it’s one of the toughest teams in our conference,” Myles said. “This is a good win for us. We’re building up to where we want to be with a big game Sunday against Iona.”

NOTES: Zedric Sadler gave Rider a scare when he went down clutching his right knee midway through the second half. He got up under his own power and returned to the game. … Stewart moved in to 20th place on the school’s all-time rebound list, matching the 578 of Charles Smith from 1993-96.


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