RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande coughed up an 11-point first half lead before rallying from eight points down in the second half to post an 86-79 win over Taylor University in the second round of the Saunders Insurance Tip-Off Classic, Saturday afternoon, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm upped their record to 2-0 with the victory.
Taylor slipped to 1-1 with the loss.
Rio appeared to have things well in hand early on after a conventional three-point play by junior forward Corey Cruse (Fort Mitchell, KY) gave the RedStorm a 33-22 advantage with 5:31 left in the first half, but the Trojans sliced the deficit to just two at halftime before taking a 50-49 lead following a three-pointer by Keaton Hendricks with 15:12 remaining in the game.
Taylor extended its lead to as many as eight points, 67-59, after a Lane Vander Hulst three-pointer with just under nine minutes left, but the RedStorm responded with a 10-2 run of their own and knotted the score at 69-69 when senior guard Travis Elliott (Ironton, OH) connected on one of two free throws with 6:17 remaining.
Cruse tied the game again at 71-71 by nailing a pair of free throws with 5:51 left, but it was a driving layup by senior guard Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) just over a minute later which put Rio Grande in front to stay.
Senior center Dwayne Bazemore (Columbus, OH) led five Rio players in double figures with 19 points, while also snaring a game-high six rebounds. Senior guard D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH) added 18 points, while Black had 16 – including 10 in the second half – and the duo of Elliott and sophomore Will Hill (Worthington, OH) had 10 points each.
The RedStorm shot 57.4 percent from the field (31-for-54) for the second straight outing.
Kyle Stidom had a game-high 23 points in a losing cause for Taylor. Evan Crowe added 14 points for the Trojans, while Hendricks and Vander Hulst netted 12 and 11 points, respectively. Stidom also had six rebounds.
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday night when it travels to Portsmouth for a meeting with rival Shawnee State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.