RICHMOND, Ind. — Indiana University-East built a 12-point second half lead, but was forced to withstand a late rally by the University of Rio Grande for a 78-74 win over the RedStorm, Saturday afternoon, in Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball action at Richmond High School’s Tiernan Center.
The Red Wolves, who remained perfect in four all-time meetings with Rio, improved to 15-10 overall and 9-2 in the KIAC by completing the season sweep of the RedStorm.
Rio Grande, which fell for the third time in its last four outings, dropped to 15-7 overall and 5-3 in league play.
The RedStorm’s three KIAC losses have come by a combined 10 points.
IU-East appeared in control after a bucket by Lucas Huffman gave the Red Wolves their biggest lead of the day, 55-43, with 12:11 remaining in the game, but the RedStorm methodically chipped away at the deficit and pulled to within 73-71 following a rebound and stickback by senior D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH) with 1:25 left to play.
The Red Wolves responded on their ensuing possession, however, when Parker Salinas buried a clutch three-pointer with 59 seconds remaining to make it 76-71.
Rio junior Matt Rhodes (Westerville, OH) canned a three-pointer of his own with 41.5 seconds left to make it a two-point game again, but the RedStorm failed to take advantage of an opportunity to tie the contest when Joiner misfired on two free throw attempts with 7.4 seconds remaining.
IU-East’s Jacoby Claypool hit one of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to make it 77-74, but Rio Grande lost the ball out of bounds on the ensuing inbounds play with 3.2 seconds remaining and Nick Bollenbacher hit one of two free throws for the Red Wolves with six-tenths of a second left to set the final score.
Rio Grande led throughout the game’s first seven minutes, but a 15-1 run by the Red Wolves turned an 18-15 deficit into a 30-19 lead after a pair of free throws by Salinas with 9:50 left in the first half.
The RedStorm rebounded and snared a 35-34 advantage after a jumper by Joiner with 2:32 remaining in the half, but a pair of free throw by Claypool 14 seconds later put IU-East back in front – a lead that, as things turned out, the Red Wolves would not relinquish.
Huffman led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the hosts with 19 points, while Vasha Davis finished with 18 and the duo of Claypool and Salinas netted 15 points each. Claypool also had a team-best five assists and four steals, while Dominique Williams pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Joiner led Rio with a game-high 22 points and five assists. He also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Fellow senior Dwayne Bazemore (Columbus, OH) added 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while senior Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) had 13 points and three steals.
The RedStorm out-shot (48.2% to 39.7%) and out-rebounded (43-30) IU-East, but hurt their own cause by going just 17-for-27 at the free throw line (63.0%) and committing 17 turnovers to the Red Wolves’ nine.
Rio Grande will return to action on Tuesday night, hosting Ohio Christian University for an 8 p.m. tipoff at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.