LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - Drexel coach Bruiser Flint was back on the bench yesterday after serving a one-game suspension as a result of receiving two technical fouls and being ejected from a Dec. 20 game at Bucknell.
Playing a nonleague game at Rider's Alumni Gymnasium, the Dragons (3-6) celebrated their leader's return with a 76-70 victory that snapped the team's five-game losing streak.
Drexel helped itself with 17-of-23 foul shooting during the last 20 minutes against a team that kept coming until the final horn. The Dragons were up by 55-43 with 8 minutes, 58 seconds remaining, but it was 74-70 with seven seconds to go.
"We didn't look behind us," Flint said. "That's what we've been doing - trying to see where the opponent is instead of looking at the finish line."
Flint did not coach the Dragons when they lost at Memphis, 87-49, on Dec. 22. He watched the game at the FedEx Forum from the suite of Tigers coach John Calipari, whom Flint assisted and then succeeded as head coach at Massachusetts.
"The body language was good," Flint said about what he saw in the Dragons from his vantage point during the Memphis game. "And I told the guys that after the game. And I told coach Cal that he still hasn't beaten me."
Baskets from beyond the arc by four Broncs put Rider up by 21-12 yesterday after both teams came out misfiring. But Drexel guard Tramayne Hawthorne made four three-point baskets during the last 4:23 of the half, and when he drove for a layup as time was running out, Drexel had a 34-34 tie at intermission.
The Dragons never trailed after going up by 40-38 with 15:47 left.
"A guy on the bench told me that I had a couple of good looks that I wasn't taking," said Hawthorne, who led all scorers with 21 points. "The next time the opportunity presented itself, I wanted to be ready, and shots were falling for me."
Ryan Thompson, who played at Lenape High in Burlington County and leads Rider (6-5) in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, was defended well by Drexel's Scott Rodgers and finished five points under his average with 12.
Cheltenham High graduate Harris Mansell, a usual starter who averages 11.0 points, missed his third consecutive game because of an elbow injury. Novar Gadson (Bartram High) finished with 15 points and Mike Ringgold (Roman Catholic High) had eight in support of guard Justin Robinson, who scored 20.
"I thought it was a physical, intense battle out there," said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. "The kind you need before you go into conference play."
Ryan Thompson's brother Jason was a Rider star who was picked 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 NBA draft. His Rider uniform number will be retired Jan. 4 before the Broncs host Marist.