RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande’s 2013-14 men’s basketball season opener ended up providing the program’s biggest offensive night in nearly 14 years.
The RedStorm raced to a 23-4 lead inside the opening five minutes and outscored Miami University-Hamilton 17-0 over the final 2:48 en route to a 121-72 blitzing of the Harriers, Friday night, in the opening round of the Saunders Insurance Tipoff Classic at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The 121 points represented the most ever scored by a Ken French-coached team and also were the program’s highest point total since a 121-35 win over Ohio University-Lancaster on November 19, 1999.
“We’re not going to be able to do that in the Mid-South (Conference),” French said. “There were stretches in this game that were hit over the head with an ugly stick, but Miami’s style of play dictated that to some degree. They don’t really have a five (center) and that created some matchup problems for them, although I thought we actually played better during the times we didn’t have our fives on the floor.”
The RedStorm shot 59.3 percent for the game (48-for-81), including an almost unbelievable 75 percent in the second half (30-for-40) when they scored 70 points.
Six Rio players finished in double figures, with half of those scoring 20 points or more.
Freshman forward Bilal Young (Cleveland, OH) led the way with 24 points, connecting on 10 of his 13 field goal tries and scoring all but three of his points in the second half. He also had nine rebounds.
Sophomore forward Phillip Hertz (Rungsted Kyst, Denmark) netted 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field and scored 14 of his 21 points after the break.
The RedStorm also got 20 points and eight rebounds from sophomore guard D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH), last year’s MSC Freshman of the Year. He finished 8-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, and had 17 points in the first half - 12 of which came in the game-opening run.
Junior guard Travis Elliott (Ironton, OH) contributed 16 points to the winning effort, while senior guard Jermaine Warmack (Orange, NJ) had 12 points, six assists and three steals and junior guard Evan Legg (Piketon, OH) netted 10 points.
Freshman forward Jalen Harris also had a big debut for Rio, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds to go with three blocked shots and a trio of steals.
“I said before that we have some guys who are capable of scoring,” French said. “We attacked the rim tonight, we shot free throws pretty well for us - we still have to work on our defense - but I’m happy. We got the first game jitters out of the way and we had multiple guys in double figures.”
Miami-Hamilton (0-2) used a 16-4 run to cut a 20-point deficit down to eight, 32-24, following a Cameron Cochrum three-pointer with 6:55 remaining in the first half, but Rio reeled off 12 of the next 15 points to push its lead back to 17 and the rout was on.
The Harriers got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way and Rio’s biggest lead was the 49-point final margin of victory.
Jamil Huffman had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead MUH, while Alex Jones and Shane Roberts finished with 10 points each.
The Harriers shot 32.5 percent for the game (25-for-77) and were outrebounded 59-31.