RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Just hours after a not-so-hot showing in a loss to Ohio Valley University, the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team responded with, arguably, its most solid performance of the season.
The RedStorm spotted Siena Heights (Mich.) University an early six-point before roaring back to post a 77-63 win over the Saints in the final round of the Domino’s Classic, Saturday afternoon, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 5-3 with the win.
Siena Heights, which was among the schools receiving votes in the most recent NAIA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 poll, slipped to 3-5 with the loss.
Rio Grande, which shot just 30 percent from the field in a 17-point loss to previously-winless Ohio Valley University on Friday night, trailed 24-22 after a bucket by Siena Heights’ DeMarco Dickerson with 6:17 left in the first half, but the RedStorm closed the half on a 13-6 run to take a five-point halftime advantage.
Rio kept things rolling after the break, scoring 11 of the first 13 points in the second half to take a 14-point cushion, 46-32, after a layup by sophomore Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY) with 15:55 left to play.
The RedStorm maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way – outside of a three-pointer by SHU’s Keith Jordan, Jr. pulling the Saints within nine, 57-48, with 8:46 left to play – and twice pushed the lead to as many as 16 points inside the final 4-1/2 minutes.
Short led Rio Grande – which shot 57 percent in the second half and just over 48 percent for the game – with a game-high 25 points and five assists, while junior Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH) had 18 points and senior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) netted 13 points.
Freshman Cole Landis (Pickerington, OH) had a team-best six rebounds for the RedStorm.
Jordan, Jr. had 22 points and three blocked shots for Siena Heights, while Dickerson added 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Kevin Rice had 12 points of his own in the loss for the Saints, who went 23-for-41 (56.1%) from two-point range and just 1-for-15 (6.7%) from beyond the three-point arc.
Rio Grande returns to action next Saturday against Reinhardt (Ga.) as part of the NAIA Division II Showcase in Kingsport, Tenn.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.