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Rider University 82, Penn State University 73

men’s College Basketball

ORLANDO, FLORIDA—Brotherly Love. The Rider University basketball team, led by the Thompson and Mansell brothers, upset Penn State Saturday in the second round of the Old Spice Classic, held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. “It was a little bit of David vs. Goliath,” said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey.  “We had to gang rebound. They are bigger, more physical, but our kids I thought played with a little more heart today. I am very proud of my team.”

Senior Jason Thompson (Mt. Laurel/Lenape), sophomore Ryan Thompson (Mt. Laurel/Lenape), junior Harris Mansell (Cheltenham, PA) and freshman Patrick Mansell (Cheltenham, PA) combined for 70 of Rider’s 82 points. “We told the players before the game that if we can play this game in the 80s Penn State would have a tough time beating us,” Dempsey said. “They are a Big 10 team that likes the physical, half court style. We thought the key to the game was to get it at our pace.” 

Trailing 34-21, Rider (3-2) out-scored PSU (2-2) 16-2 over the final 6:39 of the first half, six points by Jason Thompson and five by Harris Mansell, to take a 37-36 lead at intermission. Rider never trailed again.

Holding a 60-58 lead and with all four brothers on the court at the same time for just the second time this season, Rider went on a 14-5 run, seven points by Ryan Thompson and three each by the Mansell brothers, to take a 74-63 lead with 4:26 left to play. “We’re all brothers on this team,” Pat Mansell said. “I don’t even notice when all four brothers are on the court. We’re teammates and everyone is a brother. It is fun to play with everyone on this team.”

Jason Thompson compiled 21 points and 10 rebounds for his second ‘double-double’ of the Classic and the 33rd of his career. “Last game against NC State prepared me for this contest,” said Jason Thompson, who compiled 24 points and 15 rebounds against the Wolfpack on Thanksgiving. “NC State played pretty physical and I knew Penn State would be doing the same thing. I just let the game come to me. I didn’t want to force it too much.”

Younger brother Ryan Thompson added 19 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Patrick Mansell, a red-shirt freshman, scored 13 points in 12 minutes off the bench, all in the second half. It was the first 13 points of his Rider career. “There are a lot of good players on our team,” Dempsey said. “I’ve been wanting to get Pat more minutes but it is always at somebody else’s expense. I had a gut feeling at half time that he might give us a spark. He hadn’t played in two games but he’s a big-time scorer. Sometimes a kid in that environment comes in without a lot of pressure on him. At the pace we were playing at I knew there were going to be shots out there. When I needed one more guy to step up and knock them down we gave him the opportunity and he made the most of it.”

“I’ve been itching to get out there,” Patrick Mansell said. “Sitting out last year was hard, as was watching from the bench this year, knowing I could help the team. I’m just glad I was given the opportunity today in a big spot. My teammates have really been helping me keep my head up until my time came. It is just a great feeling right now.”

Older brother Harris Mansell scored 17 points while contributing four rebounds and three assists.

Freshman Mike Ringgold (Philadelphia, PA/Roman Catholic) added four points and nine rebounds for the Broncs. “Mike Ringgold does not back down from anyone,” Dempsey said. “That is one of the things he has brought to this team, toughness and a defensive presence. He is a tough kid and has a scrappy mentality.”

Rider out-rebounded PSU 45-35. “The big stat of this game is the rebounding,” Dempsey said. “Out-rebounding them by 10 after they out-rebounded South Carolina by 23 yesterday was just a terrific effort.”

The victory over Penn State was the first for Rider in four tries. The last time these two teams met was in the 1998 NIT. “We had a chance to beat NC State yesterday and we didn’t get it done in the second half,” Dempsey said. “Today we had the chance to beat Penn State and we did get it done in the second half. As a Mid-Major you are always looking for signature wins.”

The Nittany Lions were led by Geary Claxton, who compiled a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Rider led 12-9 before PSU went on an 11-2 run, six points by Claxton, to take a 20-14 lead nine minutes into the game.

Rider led 56-47 before Claxton led an 11-4 PSU run with nine points, cutting the Bronc lead to 60-58 with 8:50 remaining.

Rider will now play the winner of the Kansas State-Central Florida game on Sunday at 1:00 pm on ESPNU.

-RU-

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