RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande opened the second half with an 11-2 run to erase a two-point halftime deficit and fuel an eventual 87-81 triumph over Wilberforce University, Saturday afternoon, as part of the Newt Oliver Coaches Classic at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm earned their third straight victory, improving to 8-4 for the season.
Wilberforce, a former Rio rival during the days when both schools were members of the now-defunct Mid-Ohio and America Mideast conferences, slipped to 7-7 with a second straight loss.
The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points, 28-21, after a Patrick Mitchell layup with 8:25 left in the first half, but the lead was whittled down to two points, 40-38, by the intermission.
The advantage faded away permanently with Rio’s quick second half start.
The RedStorm twice built leads of as many as 11 points, but Wilberforce continued to stay within striking distance and pulled to within three, 84-81, following a three-pointer by Malik Breckenridge with 14.7 seconds left.
Rio closed things out, though, when sophomore Will Hill (Worthington, OH) hit one of two free throws with 9.5 seconds left and senior Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) nailed a pair of shots from the charity stripe with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Rio Grande shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half (18-for-32) and finished the game at 50 percent (33-for-66).
The strong shooting helped to offset a 41-35 rebounding deficit and a 12-for-23 day at the free throw line.
Senior D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH) scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the second half. He also finished with a game-high eight assists to go along with six rebounds.
Black had 18 points – 12 of which came in the second half – to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
Senior Travis Elliott (Ironton, OH) netted a season-high 14 points in the win, while senior Dwayne Bazemore (Columbus, OH) had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
DeVontae Berry scored a game-high 23 points in the loss for Wilberforce, while Mitchell tallied 17 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Breckenridge added 13 points off the bench for the Bulldogs and Brandon Murphy had a team-best eight rebounds.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.