RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Since it opened in 1969, the University of Rio Grande’s Lyne Center — and the Newt Oliver Arena, which is housed inside its walls — has seen its fair share of fantastic finishes.
It’s unclear, though, as to whether or not the facility has ever hosted a contest which finished the way Wednesday night’s get-together with West Virginia University-Tech did.
Shiloah Blevins connected on a follow-up slam dunk as time expired, lifting the RedStorm to a 69-68 victory over the Golden Bears in men’s basketball action.
Rio Grande, which snapped a two-game losing slide, improved to 11-8 with the victory -its first against WVU-Tech since Jan. 26, 2016 — a span of eight games.
The Golden Bears, which had won 32 of its last 35 regular season outings against fellow River States Conference member schools, slipped to 7-5 with the loss.
WVU-Tech trailed for most of the night, including all of the second half, until a conventional three-point play by Tamon Scruggs with 26 seconds remaining gave the Golden Bears a 68-67 advantage.
After Tech knocked the ball out of bounds to force a Rio Grande inbounds play in front of its own bench with 14.4 seconds left, freshman Andrew Shull (Milton, WV) worked the ball into fellow frosh Caleb Wallis (Jackson, OH) who, in turn, found sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) just outside the lane.
Tadic dribbled into the lane, stumbled while turning away from a pair of defenders and then found Shull wide open on the right wing for a would-be game-winner from three-point range. His jumper with two seconds left was off the mark, but Blevins raced in from the right elbow of the lane and outjumped Tech’s Ashton Parker to slam home the winning bucket just before the clock hit 0:00 and touch off an on-court celebration with his teammates.
The game was tight from the outset, with five ties, three lead changes and neither squad enjoying a double-digit lead at any stage. The Golden Bears’ biggest lead of four points came in the opening minute of the contest, while Rio’s largest cushion was nine points, 40-31, after a jumper by Tadic with 17:39 left to play.
Rio Grande shot 55 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 35-29 lead at the intermission and finished the game at 51.8 percent (29-for-56).
Tadic led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the RedStorm with 16 points and tied for game honors with three steals. Blevins finished with 15 points, a game-best 11 rebounds and two blocked shots, while Shull and senior Cam Schreiter (Mason, OH) added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Wallis also had three assists and Schreiter had two of Rio’s five steals.
Tech shot 52 percent overall in the second half and finished the game 23-for-51 (45.1%). The Golden Bears also outscored their hosts, 17-6, at the foul line, but were outrebounded, 31-26.
Darrin Martin had a game-best 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds for WVU-Tech in a losing cause, while Juvante’ Hayes and Andreas Jonsson tallied 16 and 15 points, respectively. Hayes and Jonsson had three steals each, while Scruggs and Thomas Hailey had three assists each.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Saturday when it travels to Pittsburgh, Pa. to face Carlow University in a 3 p.m. tipoff at Oakland Catholic High School.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.