PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The University of Pikeville used a late first half run to take a lead it would never relinquish and continued to pull away in the second half for a 97-75 win over the University of Rio Grande, Friday night, in non-conference men’s basketball action at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
The game served as the season opener for both schools and the loss spoiled the debut of Ryan Arrowood as the head coach of the RedStorm.
Rio Grande hung tough throughout the first half, scoring the first five points of the contest and maintaining a 37-34 lead after a pair of free throws by freshman Caleb Wallis (Jackson, OH) with 4:10 remaining before intermission.
But the host Bears responded with an 11-0 run to take a 45-37 advantage in the closing seconds of the half and never trailed again.
Rio twice closed the gap to five points, the last of which came at 58-53 on the heels of a three-pointer by freshman Andrew Shull (Milton, WV) with 13:52 to play in the contest, but a 13-4 UPike run over the next four minutes produced a 14-point lead for the home team and, essentially, ended any hope the RedStorm had of pulling an upset of the perennial national power.
The Bears led by no less than 12 points the rest of the way and extended the cushion to its largest point of the night – 25 points – inside the game’s final minute.
Pikeville shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half and 57.4 percent for the game (35-for-61), including a 7-for-9 showing from three-point range after halftime.
Jordan Perry led five double-digit scorers for UPike with a game-high 34 points – 24 of which came in the opening half.
Jamir Simpson and Malcolm Green added 12 points each for the Bears, while Christian Sweazie and Korbin Spencer finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the winning effort.
Simpson also had eight rebounds and Spencer added four assists and two steals for Pikeville.
Shull finished with 24 points in his collegiate debut to lead Rio Grande, connecting on six of the RedStorm’s 10 three-point goals.
Sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) added 17 points in a losing cause, while Wallis and junior Kam Harris (Amelia, VA) had 10 points apiece.
Freshman Redeetris Richardson (Atlanta, GA) led Rio with five rebounds and two steals, while Wallis had three assists.
The RedStorm shot 45.6 percent for the game (26-for-57), including 54.4 percent (12-for-22) in the second half.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action next Tuesday, traveling to Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.