With such a strong Philadelphia influence on its roster, the Rider men's basketball team surely looked at home Wednesday night at La Salle's Tom Gola Arena.
The Broncs received a combined 43 points from Philadelphia products Novar Gadson and Mike Ringgold in a 77-68, nonleague win over the Explorers.
Gadson, a 6-foot-7 junior from Bartram, had 25 points and seven rebounds, while Ringgold, a 6-7 senior from Roman Catholic, added 18 points, shooting 9 of 13 from the floor.
The other Philadelphia players in the starting lineup were 6-7 freshman Danny Stewart (Neumann-Goretti), who had nine points and seven rebounds, and 6-7 junior Brandon Penn (Paul Robeson), who scored 10 points and added two steals.
"It is always good to come home and play in front of friends and family," Gadson said. "We have to continue playing good basketball."
La Salle was led by 6-8 senior Jerrell Williams, who contributed 24 points and 14 rebounds.
"I would say Jerrell was a bright spot," La Salle coach John Giannini said.
The not-so-bright spot centered on defense.
La Salle led, 34-33, at halftime and allowed the Broncs to shoot 17 for 30 (56.7 percent) over the final 20 minutes.
"Our defensive commitment hasn't been good enough, and I will keep fighting to try to make us better defensively," Giannini said.
La Salle (6-6) has lost three in a row, a streak that began with a strong effort in an 84-81 loss to Villanova and was followed by Friday's 89-77 defeat against Bucknell.
Right now, the Explorers are at the crossroads of their season.
"I think we have to refocus ourselves and keep working hard and try to find our momentum," Williams said.
Conversely, Rider has won three of four.
For a senior such as Ringgold, this was a special win because it was his last time playing in Philadelphia. The only other game this year in the city for Rider was a 71-67 overtime loss Dec. 11 at Drexel.
"Since I've been here, we never won in Philly," Ringgold said. "This was a big win for us to take."
Rider coach Tommy Dempsey not only was happy to see his team improve to 8-5, but he also will certainly use the result of this game when recruiting. And make no mistake - he will make continued trips to Philadelphia.
"I think there are so many good players here. The Big 5 can't get them all," Dempsey said. "Every time they pass on a guy or make a mistake on a guy, I want to be there with my scholarship."
Other than Williams, the Explorers had trouble getting two solid halves from their players.
Aaric Murray, a 6-10 sophomore who had 28 points against Bucknell, finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but he had just six points in the first half, when he was 2 for 10 from the field.
Freshman guard Sam Mills scored 10 points in the first half but was shut out in the second.
The Broncs trailed, 54-49, before assuming control by going on a 22-6 run. A dunk by Stewart ended the spree, extending the Broncs' lead to 71-60 with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining.