KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team erased an early nine-point deficit and coughed up a nine-point lead of its own before finally pulling away for good.
Three different players scored in a 7-0 run that gave the RedStorm a lead they would never relinquish in an eventual 69-62 win over Reinhardt (Ga.) University, Saturday morning, as part of the 2019 NAIA DII Showcase at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Center and Resort.
Rio Grande, which won for the fourth time in five games, improved to 6-3 overall.
Reinhardt suffered a second straight loss, falling to 3-7 overall.
The Eagles bolted to a 16-7 lead out of the gate, but watched as Rio Grande rallied to take a 32-31 halftime lead.
The RedStorm then snapped the fourth tie of the contest with a 9-0 run and took a 44-35 advantage following a jumper in the lane by sophomore Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY) with 17:20 remaining in the contest.
An 11-2 spurt by the Eagles, capped by a Jamison Syphore three-pointer with 13:09 left, tied the game again at 46-all, but Rio Grande took the lead once and for all two possessions later on a layup by junior Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH).
A subsequent bucket by senior Greg Wallace (Montego Bay, Jamaica) and a pair of free throws by junior Bobby Anderson (Catlettsburg, KY) extended the RedStorm’s cushion to 53-46 with 11:04 remaining and the lead was no less than four points the rest of the way.
Rio’s biggest lead of the day came with 23 seconds left to play when a pair of free throws by Short made it 68-58.
The RedStorm did the bulk of its damage at the free throw line, connecting on 29 of their 38 attempts in the game.
The Eagles went just 8-for-14 at the charity stripe.
Short was Rio’s only double-digit scorer, finishing with a game-high 23 points. He finished 16-for-20 at the free throw line.
Freshman Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) narrowly missed a double-double effort, scoring nine points and yanking down a game-high nine rebounds.
Reinhardt got 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals from Dwayne Wilson, while Josh Daniels had 11 points and four assists and Blake MacIntyre added 11 points of his own in a losing cause.
Rio Grande returns to action on Sunday when it closes out the holiday weekend event against Lourdes (Ohio) University.
Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.