RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Sophomore guard D.D. Joiner poured in a season-high 23 points and added nine rebounds, while Bilal Young netted 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the University of Rio Grande past 14th-ranked St. Catharine College, 71-68, Thursday night, in Mid-South Conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm (12-5 overall, 5-1 MSC), who received votes but narrowly missed cracking the latest coaches’ Top 25, won for the fifth straight time and for the third time in as many outings against ranked foes this season.
Head coach Ken French’s team also won for just the second time in nine all-time meetings with St. Catharine, which slipped to 10-6 overall and 4-3 in league play with the loss.
Rio somehow managed to erase an 11-point deficit with just over 13 minutes to play despite shooting just 24 percent from the field in the second half (6-for-25) and committing a season-high 23 turnovers for the game.
The RedStorm, who had just two field goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half, outscored the Patriots at the free throw line, 20-14, including 18-8 in the second half.
Rio Grande trailed from the outset and didn’t enjoy its first lead until a three-pointer by Joiner (Columbus, OH) with 3:54 left before intermission made it 31-30 in favor of the RedStorm.
St. Catharine eventually regained a 39-38 edge at the break and opened the second stanza on an 11-1 run to take their biggest lead of the night, 50-39, following a bucket by Raymon Austin with 13:13 left to play.
The RedStorm roared back, though, scoring 13 of the game’s next 15 points to take a 53-52 lead on a pair of free throws by senior guard Ricky Tisdale (Bolivar, TN) with 7:02 remaining in the contest.
After St. Catharine briefly got the lead back thanks to a William Tolefree three-pointer, Rio responded with 11 of the next 12 points to take their biggest lead of the night, 64-56, following a driving layup by Young with 2:46 still to play.
The RedStorm never trailed again, although the Patriots closed the gap to two twice in the final 30.7 seconds.
Senior guard Jermaine Warmack (Orange, NJ) hit the first of two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to give Rio a three-point cushion, but Tolefree’s would-be game-tying three-point heave from three-quarter-court as time expired after he rebound Warmack’s miss on the second free throw fell short.
Joiner, who had 15 of his 23 points in the first half, also had three steals in the win, while Young - a freshman forward from Cleveland, Ohio - and Tisdale contributed five assists and two steals apiece.
Tolefree led four players in double figures for SCC with 17 points, while Omar Skinner added 14 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds and four assists.
Taron Franklin tossed in 13 points in a losing cause for SCC, while Austin finished with 10 points and three steals.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday when Campbellsville University visits for a 4 p.m. tipoff.
The Tigers dropped a 77-61 decision at Shawnee State on Thursday night.