BECKLEY, W.Va. — Sophomore standout Gunner Short was back in the lineup for the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team on Thursday night, but his return – and subsequent performance – were overshadowed by a Junior and two freshmen.
West Virginia University-Tech’s Junior Arrey poured in a career-high 35 points, while the freshman duo of Andrew Work and Darrin Martin combined for 35 points of their own, to fuel the Golden Bears in a come-from-behind 84-79 victory over the RedStorm in River States Conference action at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Tech, which won for a third straight and the six straight time against Rio, improved to 11-6 overall and 6-1 in conference play.
The RedStorm fell to 9-12 overall and 2-5 in league play with the loss.
Arrey finished 15-for-17 from the floor, while also finishing with a team-high six rebounds. He also had a game-high five assists and four steals, while surpassing the 1,000-point mark for his career in the process.
Work equaled a career-high with 18 points in the winning effort, while Martin scored 10 of his 17 points after halftime.
Short, playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury during the second half of a win at Brescia University last Thursday, paced a quartet of double-digit scored for Rio Grande by equaling his career-high of 31 points. The Catlettsburg, Ky. product went 10-for-16 overall, 4-for-5 from three-point range and 7-for-11 at the free throw line.
The contest was a back-and-forth affair for most of the night, producing 12 ties and 12 lead changes.
Rio Grande led by as many as seven points, 30-23, with just under 9-1/2 minutes left in the opening half before settling for a 42-39 advantage at the intermission. The RedStorm shot 57 percent (16-for-28) in the opening 20 minutes.
WVU-Tech, which played without Tamon Scruggs – its second-leading scorer and top rebounder – eventually took the lead for good when Arrey snapped the game’s final tie with a layup that gave the Golden Bears a 70-68 cushion with 6:46 left to play.
Rio Grande sliced the deficit in half just under a minute-and-a-half later when Short connected on one of two free throw chances with 5:19 remaining, but Tech responded with an 11-3 run to take its largest lead of the night, 81-72, following a three-pointer by Dominik King with 1:39 remaining.
King’s three-pointer was the Golden Bears’ only successful attempt from beyond the arc in the game.
Short drained consecutive three-pointers to draw Rio as close as 81-78 with 53.5 seconds left, but Tech’s Juvante’ Hayes went 3-for-4 at the free throw line in the final 24.6 seconds to settle the issue once and for all.
The Golden Bears shot 56.7 percent in the second half (17-for-30) and 52.5% for the game (32-for-61), while being credited with only three turnovers.
Rio Grande finished at an even 50 percent from the floor (26-for-52) and outrebounded its host, 39-29. Nine of the team’s 14 turnovers came in the second half.
In addition to Short’s offensive showing, the RedStorm got 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds from freshman Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH).
Senior Greg Wallace (Montego Bay, Jamaica) added 11 points and eight rebounds in a losing cause, while fellow senior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) had 10 points – all in the second half – and a team-best four assists.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action next Tuesday when it completes a four-game road swing at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.