PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Corey Cruse converted a conventional three-point play with 23 seconds remaining and D.D. Joiner added a pair of insurance free throws with four seconds left to lift the University of Rio Grande past rival Shawnee State University, 65-61, Tuesday night, in non-conference men’s basketball action at Waller Gymnasium.
The RedStorm improved to 3-0 with the win.
Shawnee State dropped to 2-1 with the loss.
Cruse, a junior forward from Fort Mitchell, Ky., canned a layup and subsequent free throw to erase a 61-60 deficit, while Joiner – a senior from Columbus, Ohio – scored his only points of the night after being fouled on his rebound of a would-be game-tying jumper by Shawnee State’s Devon Carter to seal the victory.
Cruse finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) added 15 points of his own and sophomore guard Will Hill (Worthington, OH) netted 13 points and had three steals.
Senior guard Travis Elliott (Ironton, OH) added 11 points and a game-high four assists in the winning effort. Rio was credited with 18 assists on its 24 field goals.
Carter had 16 points, four assists and four steals to pace SSU, while Nick Tingle yanked down a game-high 17 rebounds and had four blocked shots.
The Bears bolted to a 9-0 lead just over two minutes into the game, but Rio Grande methodically rebounded to grab a 36-33 advantage at the intermission.
The RedStorm extended their lead to its largest point of the night, 55-47, following a layup by freshman Abe Eze with 7:39 remaining in the game.
Carter scored eight consecutive points to tie the game and Fredrick Moore nailed a three-pointer with 4:16 left to play to send the Bears in front, 58-55.
Hill responded with a trifecta of his own just 16 seconds later on Rio’s ensuing possession to knot the score at 58-all and set the stage for the nailbiting finish.
Rio Grande will return to action on Friday afternoon, taking on Marian (Ind.) University in the opening round of the Cougar Homecoming Classic at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.