Anthony Miles scored 20 points to lead Rider past Siena 62-56 in the MAAC opener for both schools Friday night in Albany. Rakeem Brookins came off the bench to score 12 points to lead the Saints.
Rider (6-4, 1-0) led by as many as 14 points early in the second half before Siena (2-8, 0-1) began to chip away. The Saints got as close as 56-51 with 3:23 left after two Brookins' free throws, but O.D. Anosike and Ryan Oliver each missed layups after a Rider turnover and the Broncs scored the next five points to put the game away.
Siena shot 50% (13-26) from the field in the second half and limited Rider to 35% (10-29), but the Saints were just 6-17 from the free throw line for the game.
"That's been a consistent problem for us," Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro said of the free throw shooting. "You're not going to win close games going 6-for-17."
It was the sixth straight loss for Siena. The Saints are 0-4 at home for the second time in the last three years, and equaled their worst Division I start through 10 games (2-8).
Rider used a 15-3 run over an eight minute and 40 second stretch in the first half to build a 28-19 lead and never trailed again. The Saints missed 14 of their last 16 shots in the first half, and trailed 32-22 heading to the lockerroom.
Jonathon Thompson scored eight of his 12 points in the first half for Rider. The Broncs made 45% (13-29) of their field goals in the first 20 minutes.
Brookins had missed the last three games after reinjuring his back in a loss at Maine. He wasn't scheduled to return to Siena's rotation until the La Salle game December 29, but he made rapid progress and was cleared to resume practicing with the team Thursday. It was Brookins' first game at Times Union Center since February 19, 2011. The red-shirt sophomore added four steals and three assists to his line and helped the Saints push tempo as well as they have all season late in the game.
O.D. Anosike had his eighth double-double in 10 games this season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Rob Poole rounded out the three Saints in double figures with 11 points.
Freshmen Brett Bisping and Ryan Oliver played 15 and 13 minutes in the second half respectively, gaining quality experience in a hotly contested league game.
The Saints forced 14 Rider turnovers, and had just 13 themselves marking the first time all season they've had fewer turnovers than the opposition.
Siena will look to get back on track Sunday at struggling Manhattan. The Jaspers fell to 2-5 on the season with a 62-58 loss at Marist tonight.