WINONA LAKE, Ind. — Grace College suffered a buzzer-beatlng loss to the University of Rio Grande last season as part of Rio’s annual Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament.
On Wednesday night, the Lancers made sure there wouldn’t be a repeat performance on their home floor.
Grace built a 20-point second half lead before staving off a comeback bid by the RedStorm and pulling away again for a 78-64 triumph in non-conference play at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.
The Lancers improved to 5-2 with the victory.
Rio Grande, which had a three-game win streak snapped, slipped to 4-3 with the loss.
The RedStorm rebounded from a slow start and an early 10-point deficit, taking a 21-20 lead following a steal and subsequent layup by senior Bobby Anderson (Catlettsburg, KY) with 8:56 left in the opening half.
But Rio closed the half 3-for-10 from the floor and committed five turnovers, as Grace reeled off a 24-8 run to open up a 44-29 cushion at the intermission.
The Lancers also tacked on the first five points of the second half to take their largest lead of the night, 49-29, after a bucket in the lane by Jake Wadding with 18:12 left in the game before the RedStorm briefly righted the ship to make things interesting.
Rio scored 19 of the next 24 points in the contest and closed the gap to six, 54-48, after a driving layup by sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) with 11:53 remaining.
Unfortunately, it was as close as the RedStorm would get the rest of the way.
Grace managed to extend its lead back to as many as 18 points, 78-60, following a three-point goal by Haden Deaton with 1:30 left to play before Rio scored the game’s last four points to set the final score.
Deaton led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the Lancers with a game-high 20 points. He also had a game-high five assists.
Wadding and Jakob Gibbs aded 13 and 12 points, respectively, to the winning effort, while Cade Gibbs had 11 points and Frankie Davidson pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
Grace shot 62 percent in the first half (18-for-29), 56.6% for the game (30-for-53) and enjoyed a commanding 37-22 edge in rebounding.
Rio Grande finished 22-for-54 from the floor (40.7%) after shooting just 35.7 percent in the opening half.
Sophomore Miroslav “Miki” Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) led the RedStorm with 16 points and three steals, while Blevins finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Freshman Redeetris Richardson (Atlanta, GA) added 10 points and a team-best two assists in a losing cause.
Rio Grande is now slated to return to the court on Dec. 17, at home, against the University of Pikeville.
The RedStorm’s next three scheduled contests — Dec. 5 at WVU-Tech, Dec. 12. vs. Point Park University and Dec. 15 at Carlow University — have all been postponed due to COVID-related issues.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.