RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Just when it appeared that the University of Rio Grande was poised to record its biggest upset win in recent memory, the RedStorm offense did its best impression of Jimmy Hoffa and disappeared without a trace.
The scoring drought was all that fifth-ranked Mount Vernon Nazarene needed to mount a late comeback and extend its winning streak.
Rio Grande went scoreless for just over seven minutes, allowing the Cougars to turn a three-point deficit into a 10-point lead and an eventual 68-62 victory, Saturday afternoon, in non-conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Mount Vernon Nazarene, which had beaten the RedStorm at home by 29 points in early November, improved to 15-2 with a fifth straight win overall and a fifth straight win in the all-time series.
Rio Grande slipped to 7-9 with its third straight loss.
The RedStorm enjoyed their largest lead of the day after a bucket by junior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) made it 54-45 with 11:41 left to play, but the team managed just two points over the next 9-1/2 minutes.
Rio still clung to a 56-53 advantage after a jumper by freshman Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY) with 8:36 remaining in the contest, but by the time the RedStorm scored again on a layup by junior Cameron Schreiter (Mason, OH) with 1:23 left, the Cougars had reeled off 13 consecutive points and had built a double-digit cushion of their own.
Rio got as close as 66-62 following a rebound and stickback by Tiggs with 15.5 seconds left, but go no closer.
The RedStorm, who hit seven of their first nine shots in the second half, went 3-for-13 from the floor and committed nine of their game total 14 turnovers over the final 11-1/2 minutes after building the nine-point lead.
Austin Jones led a quartet of double-digit scorers for MVNU – which shot just under 58 percent in the second half – with 17 points, 11 of which came after halftime. He also finished with a team-high eight rebounds.
Brett Vipperman added 12 points, in addition to a game-high seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots, while Isaac White and Jevon Knox finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Tiggs scored a career-best 14 points in the loss for Rio Grande, while also totaling a team-best eight rebounds and four assists.
Schreiter also had 14 points for the RedStorm, while freshman Joshua Anthony (Newnan, GA) matched Tiggs with four assists.
Rio Grande returns to action on Thursday afternoon when it resumes River States Conference play by hosting Brescia University.
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.