RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande survived a second half scoring spurt by Ohio University-Lancaster and went on to pull away for an 89-68 win over the Cougars, Thursday afternoon, in non-conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The matinee affair, billed as the Champions of Character Classic, was played before an energetic crowd comprised of students from both Rio Grande Elementary and the Buckeye Hills Career Center.
Rio Grande improved to 8-7 overall with the win, completing a season sweep of OU-Lancaster in the process.
The Cougars, who were coming off a 101-63 rout of Ohio State-Mansfield on Wednesday night, slipped to 4-9 with the loss – their 15th in as many all-time meetings against Rio Grande.
The game appeared headed toward a blowout early on as the RedStorm jumped to a 25-5 just over eight minutes in before settling on a 16-point cushion at the intermission.
The lead grew to 21 points, 56-35, after sophomore Joshua Anthony (Newnan, GA) completed a conventional three-point play with 16:15 left to play, but the Cougars responded with a 15-0 run over the next 3-1/2 minutes to pull within 56-50 following a conventional three-point play by Brady Snyder.
However, that was as close as OU-L would get.
Rio Grande answered the Cougars’ scoring spurt with a run of its own, reeling off 15 of the game’s next 21 points over the next six minutes to take a 71-56 advantage after a steal and a layup by senior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) with 7:22 remaining.
The Cougars got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way and the RedStorm enjoyed their largest lead of the day – 22 points – after a three-pointer by junior Trey Kelley (Minford, OH) made it 85-63 with 2:45 left to play.
Kelley led five Rio players in double figures with 14 points, while sophomore Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY) added 13, Anthony and junior Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH) scored 12 points each and freshman Dwaine Simmons (Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos) tossed in 11 points.
Tiggs nearly finished with a triple-double, tallying a team-high eight rebounds and eight assists to go along with nine points. He also had a team-best three steals.
Preston Gothard scored a game-high 22 points of the bench to pace OU-Lancaster, while Brendan Snyder and Brady Snyder tossed in 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Brady Snyder also had a game-high eight assists in a losing cause for the Cougars, while Lucas Thompson pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
OU-L shot just 36.8 percent for the game (25-for-68) and was outrebounded, 50-34.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday afternoon with another non-conference tilt at Thomas More University.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills, Ky.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.