RIO GRANDE, Ohio — As the only senior on the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball roster, Earl Russell had all of the pregame recognition to himself.
But once the RedStorm finally tipped off their home finale against Carlow University, the 6-foot-7 center from Warrington, England proved himself worthy of the attention.
Russell poured in a career-high 24 points to pace a quartet of double-digit scorers for Rio in a 101-72 rout of the Celtics, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm improved to 12-17 overall and 6-10 in league play with their third straight victory, officially securing a berth in the upcoming RSC Tournament in the process.
The win, coupled with Point Park University’s loss at West Virginia University-Tech, vaulted Rio into third place in the RSC East Division standings.
Carlow slipped to 1-27 overall and 0-15 inside the RSC with the loss, its 27th consecutive setback after a season-opening win.
The Celtics took a 3-2 lead just 56 seconds into the contest on a three-pointer by Marcus Millien, but Rio Grande responded with 43-10 run – culminated by a pair of free throws by junior Cameron Schreiter (Mason, OH) – to take a 45-13 lead with 6:16 left in the first half.
Carlow got no closer than 20 points the rest of the way and the RedStorm enjoyed their largest lead of the day – 33 points – when a dunk by Russell with 15:34 remaining in the contest made it 64-31.
The dunk was one of six in the game for Russell, who finished 11-for-13 from the field. He also had seven rebounds, helping Rio to a commanding 45-26 edge on the glass.
Rio also got 15 points and a game-high five assists and two steals from sophomore Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH), while freshmen Joshua Anthony (Newnan, GA) and Bobby Anderson (Catlettsburg, KY) finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Schreiter had a game-high eight rebounds in the winning effort for the RedStorm, which had all 10 players in uniform score at least two points.
Carlow, which made things a bit more respectable by shooting 62.5 percent from the floor in the second half following an 8-for-31 (25.8%) performance before the intermission, also had four players reach double figures.
Rece Henneman scored 16 of his team-best 18 points after halftime, while Brenlee Reedy finished with 15 points. Millien and Travis Jordan tallied 11 points apiece in a losing cause.
Jordan also had six rebounds.
Rio Grande will close out its regular season schedule next Saturday in Beckley, W.Va. against WVU-Tech.
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.