LAKE WALES, Fla. - Warner University coughed up a nine-point first half lead, but rallied from six points down in the second half to post an 80-72 win over the University of Rio Grande, Saturday afternoon, in men’s basketball action at the Turner Athletic Center.
The host Royals, an NAIA Division II school, improved to 7-4 with the win and snapped a three-game losing slide in the process.
Rio Grande slipped to 4-9 with its third straight loss.
Warner built a 27-18 first half advantage after a three-pointer by Bryce Kachinksi with 5:04 left before halftime, but Rio Grande responded with an 11-1 run to take a 29-28 cushion of its own after a trifecta by freshman guard D.D. Joiner.
The Royals eventually finished the half with a 33-31 lead and were up 40-37 following a three-pointer by Halstead Chiverton with 15:31 left to play, but the RedStorm reeled off nine straight points of their own to take a 46-40 edge with 14:18 remaining after a three-pointer by sophomore Evan Legg.
Warner mounted another run of its own, outscoring the RedStorm 20-6 over the next five minutes to open up a 60-52 lead after a runner in the lane by Kachinksi with 9:04 left.
The Royals continued to build on their advantage and enjoyed their biggest lead of 15 points, 74-59, when Ian Wilhelm connected on a three-pointer with 3:25 left in the game.
Rio Grande got no closer that the final margin the rest of the way.
Wilhelm led a quartet of double-digit scorers with 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half. All six of his field goals were from three-point range.
Mark St. Fort finished with 17 points in the win, while Chiverton netted 15 and Ray Victor had 13. All of Chiverton and Victor’s points came in the second half.
Kachinski added eight assists for the Royals, while Chiverton had four steals and O’Neil Lubin pulled down a team-best six rebounds.
Joiner and senior guard Kaleb Kimber led the RedStorm with 16 points each, while senior center Dominick Haynes had 12 points and junior forward Karl Moore had 10 points.
Junior guard Jermaine Warmack was credited with a game-high 10 assists and a game-high four assists.
Rio Grande shot 52.9 percent from the field (27-for-51), but hurt its own cause with 22 turnovers - 15 of which occurred in the second half.
Warner shot 51.7 percent for the game, including 58.8 percent (20-for-34) in the second half.
For the second time in as many days, the game was delayed at the beginning by a lack of officials. After a 50-minute delay, the game got underway when two members of the three-person officiating crew from the preceeding women’s contest elected to work the men’s contest as well.
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday, December 28, at Cleveland State University. The game is second of two exhibition contests this season against NCAA Division I opponents.