The Daily Item

RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico — Rider scored 11 straight points late to rally past Bucknell 85-79 on Wednesday afternoon at the Cancun Challenge.

Both teams had double-digit leads in the game, but the Bison couldn’t hold on down the stretch despite getting career scoring highs from Xander Rice (24) and Jake van der Heijden (15) along with the first career double-double from Alex Timmerman (11 points, 12 rebounds).

Bucknell (1-5) dropped its third straight since beating Rider seven days earlier, while the Broncs (3-4) snapped their own three-game losing streak.

The Bison trailed by 12 early on, but turned things around to take an 11-point lead early in the second half. Rider got hot thanks to some good 3-point shooting — they hit 8 of 17 on the day after coming in at 24.6 percent — and regained the lead on a Mervin James layup with 9:22 to go.

van der Heijden’s fifth 3-pointer of the day sparked an 8-2 run for the Bison, and they led 73-69 after an Elvin Edmonds IV free throw with 5:28 to go.

Those were Bucknell’s final points for almost five minutes. While the Bison missed six straight shots with a moving screen violation mixed in, Rider ran off 11 straight points.

Dimencio Vaughn’s third-chance put-back snapped a 73-all tie, James hit two free throws, and then Corey McKeithan banked in a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to give Rider an 80-73 lead with 1:03 to play.

Rice converted a three-point play and a 3-point jumper in the final half-minute, but the Broncs hit five straight free throws to seal it.

“We are all frustrated, but I can’t fault anyone for how hard they are playing,” Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said. “We are playing very well for long stretches, but we have to find a way to eliminate these moments in the game where a few bad possessions start piling up.

“Today it was the first five minutes and last five minutes. We are playing really tough opponents, and in a close game those runs are costing us.”

Up five at halftime, Bucknell scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half to grab a double-digit lead for the first time. van der Heijden hit two 3-pointers, and Rice drove hard to the rim for a layup 52-41 lead.

Funk’s 3-pointer made it 59-50, but Rider answered with seven straight points to cap a stretch where it went 6-for-7 from the field. Timmerman scored in the post twice to help the Bison maintain small leads, but Rider finally took the lead on back-to-back buckets from James.

James led rider with 23 points, followed by Vaughn with 16 and McKeithan and Dwight Murray Jr. with 12 each. Murray, who had 30 at Sojka Pavilion last week, also had 10 rebounds and six assists.

Funk was Bucknell’s fourth double-digit scorer with 12 points. Rice not only had a career-high 24 points, but he set a new personal best with eight rebounds. Timmerman continued his breakout week with starting center Andre Screen out with an injury. In the three games at the Cancun Classic, including Saturday’s campus-site game at Illinois State, Timmerman totaled 43 points and 29 rebounds while hitting 19 of 27 shots from the field (.704).

The Bison got out of the gates slowly and found themselves in an early 11-0 hole. The Broncs hit their first three 3-point attempts of the day, with Powell’s triple giving them a 14-2 lead.

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