VCU transfer Teddy Okereafor scored a game-high 28 points and was right in the middle of a decisive 27-6 second half run as Rider opened its MAAC season with an 80-68 win over Siena Sunday in Lawrenceville. Lavon Long led Siena with 16 points before fouling out late.
"This is not a disastrous loss, but we have to learn from it," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "I think we lost a little toughness on the ball, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. We're a work in progress right now."
Siena led 42-39 after a Long free throw with 15:24 to play, but Rider scored 17 of the next 19 points to take command and never looked back. By the time the decisive run was over, Rider led 66-48, and Siena got no closer than the final margin the rest of the way.
Okereafor made 9-13 field goals, 3-5 three-pointers and all seven of his free throws. He also led all players with nine rebounds. The Broncs dominated the glass 39-25 and forced 18 Siena turnovers.
"Rebounding is going to be an issue with (Brett) Bisping and (Imoh) Silas gone," Patsos said. "I think someone needs to step up. We were small and had 18 turnovers. That doesn't make sense to me."
Long played with great energy and toughness for the second time in three days, but many of his teammates failed to match his intensity.
"I've never coached a tougher kid than Lavon," Patsos said.
Rider was playing its first MAAC game of the season, and last played Wednesday night when they defeated Central Connecticut at home. Siena rolled Quinnipiac 88-67 in Albany Friday night.
Patrick Cole made his first start for Siena in place of Brett Bisping who left Friday's game with a dislocated toe and is out of the lineup indefinitely. Cole finished the game strong and made all four of his field goals on his way to 15 points. It was the third straight solid effort for the Coppin State transfer. Rob Poole rounded out Siena's double figure scorers with 12 points
Rider shot 48% from the field in each half and got 12 points from Anthony D'Orazio and 11 from Zedric Sadler.
Siena will try to break back in the win column Saturday when it faces rival UAlbany in the Professional Fire Restoration Albany Cup at 7:30 p.m.