FINAL: Rider 62, Siena 56
ALBANY -- Rakeem Brookins breathed some new life into Siena's moribund offense, but not enough to beat Rider tonight.
Anthony Myles scored 20 points as the Broncs (1-0, 6-4) held off a Siena rally in the last five minutes, 62-56, the Saints' sixth straight loss to fall to 2-8 overall in their MAAC opener.
Brookins was not scheduled to be back in the lineup until Dec. 29 after injuring his back against Maine on Nov. 25, but he practiced on Thursday and felt good to go during pre-game warmups. While playing almost all of the second half with Evan Hymes on the bench, the 5-foot-10 guard from Philadelphia energized the Siena offense with steals and transition baskets.
His free throws with 3:23 left brought Siena within 56-51, but the Saints scored just three points the rest of the way, a three-pointer by Brett Bisping to make it 61-54 with 1:16 left.
"It was just the tempo," Brookins said. "We didn't have as much as we needed to, so I thought, with me pushing the ball, it would give us better opportunities, penetrating and kicking. I didn't think about my back, I just went out and played my game."
"I got up this morning, I grabbed the newspaper, and it kind of said they weren't sure he was going to play," Rider first-year head coach Kevin Baggett said.
"I just knew he was going to play. He's a competitor, he's a kid from Philadelphia, and any chance he would have to play, I knew he was going to get in the game."
Rider held Siena, which scored just 43 points in a loss at St. Bonaventure on Tuesday, to 22 points in taking a 10-point lead at halftime.
Once the Saints got within 56-51, they had two excellent chances to get closer, but O.D. Anosike's little hook was blocked in what appeared to be a goaltend by Junior Fortunat, and Ryan Oliver missed another layup after getting the ball out of a wild scramble on the floor.
The Broncs scored the next five points to go up, 61-51.
"I thought he had a layup on that, and they came out of nowhere to block it," Siena head coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "If we make one of those two layups, it's a one-possession game."
Brookins missed all of last season with bulging and herniated discs in his back.
Anosike finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Siena plays at Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, then has two weeks off.