PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Shawnee State University used a 14-0 first half run to build a 19-point lead and the Bears never looked back, cruising to an 85-70 win over the University of Rio Grande, Tuesday night, in Mid-South Conference men’s basketball action at the Frank & Janis Waller Gymnasium.
The Bears, who dropped two of three meetings with Rio last season, improved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the MSC with the win.
The RedStorm slipped under the .500 mark for the first time this season, dropping to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Rio Grande trailed 26-21 following a pair of free throws by senior guard Kaleb Kimber with 9:56 left in the first half, but by the time the RedStorm scored again on a jumper by senior forward Turrell Morris with 5:48 remaining before halftime, Shawnee had built what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
Jeremy Bennington fueled the Bears’ first half success, coming off the bench to score 14 of his game-high 22 points.
Rio, which trailed 44-29 at the break, committed 14 turnovers in the opening stanza and allowed Shawnee nearly as many offensive rebounds (11) as the RedStorm had total rebounds (15).
Things didn’t get any better in the second half.
A jumper by freshman guard D.D. Joiner with 18:38 left in the game pulled Rio within 11 points, 44-33, but the RedStorm got no closer the rest of the way.
Shawnee State led by as many as 21 points twice in the second half.
In addition to Bennington’s big night, the Bears got 17 points from Tyler Morgan, 12 from Ian Nixson and 11 from Tyler Boyles. Morgan also had four assists and three steals.
Joiner had a game-high 24 points in the loss for Rio Grande, but was the only RedStorm player in double figures. Junior forward Karl Moore narrowly missed a double-double performance, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds.
Rio shot the ball well enough to win, hitting 28 of 58 shots overall (48.3 percent) and eight of its 16 three-point tries, but the RedStorm were outscored by 13 points at the free throw line, committed 24 turnovers and was outrebounded 44-37 — including 18 offensive rebounds for Shawnee.
Rio Grande returns to action on Thursday, Nov. 29, traveling to Wise, Va. for a Mid-South Conference tilt with the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.