RIO GRANDE, Ohio — It was a victory that University of Rio Grande men’s basketball head coach Ken French called “the biggest win we’ve had since we’ve been in the Mid-South Conference.”
The RedStorm built a 14-point halftime lead and maintained a double-digit cushion throughout the final 20 minutes, rolling to a 73-57 triumph over No. 20 Campbellsville University, Thursday night, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 6-9 overall and 2-4 in the MSC with its second straight win, snapping a four-game conference losing slide in the process.
“Our guys battled and they played tonight,” French said. “Forget about everything else, that’s the biggest win we’ve had since we joined the league. We got the monkey off our back last year and we’d already won a game this year, but this is our biggest one because of the respect I have for (Campbellsville) and the kind of program (head) coach (Keith) Adkins has.”
The win was just the sixth MSC victory ever for Rio Grande, which finally managed four conference wins last season after going winless in league play in each of its first two seasons as an MSC member.
The RedStorm scored the game’s first eight points and found themselves enjoying a 16-4 lead just over five minutes into the contest before the Tigers reeled off 13 consecutive points to take a 17-16 lead following a three-pointer by Sean Scott with 10:06 remaining before halftime.
The game stayed nip-and-tuck over the next five minutes before Rio embarked on a 13-0 run of its own to close out the half for a 39-25 advantage at the break.
Scott nailed another three-pointer 53 seconds into the second half to draw Campbellsville within 11 but, as things turned out, they’d get no closer the rest of the way.
Campbellsville matched the 11-point deficit seven other times over the final 19 minutes, but never got the Rio lead down to single digits.
The RedStorm’s biggest lead of the night was 18 points, 73-55, following a three-pointer by freshman guard D.D. Joiner with 2:32 left to play.
Joiner led a trio of double-digit scorers for Rio with 14 points, while junior forward Karl Moore added 12 points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds and four steals.
Junior forward Bruce Komakech also had 12 points and a game-high three blocked shots in the win, while junior guard Jermaine Warmack handed out six assists.
Rio shot 45.8 percent from the field for the game (27-for-59) and committed just eight turnovers.
Campbellsville hit on 34 percent of its field goal tries (18-for-53), but was just 8-for-28 from the field (28.6 percent) in the first half. The Tigers were also outrebounded, 38-34.
Vernon Payne scored 12 points to lead three players in double figures for the Tigers (9-4, 3-3 MSC), while Scott netted 11 points and Justin Ennis had 10. “We played a complete game. It was a really nice team win for us,” French said. “We handled the adversity of having (senior center) Dom (Haynes) in foul trouble all night long because a bunch of guys stepped up and contributed and our defense, I thought, was as good as its been all season.”
The 57 points represented the second-lowest scoring output by Campbellsville this season, topped only by the 56 points scored in a 65-56 loss to Lindsey Wilson on November 20.