RICHMOND, Ind. — There was absolutely no difficulty in determining where things got away from the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team during Tuesday night’s get-together against Indiana University East.
The host Red Wolves used a 22-0 run which spanned the final 9:07 of the first half and the first 1:27 of the second stanza to fuel a 79-57 victory over the RedStorm in River States Conference action at Lingle Court.
IU East improved to 17-9 overall and 11-1 in league play, keeping pace with RSC East Division co-leader WVU-Tech, which picked up a road win at Ohio Christian University on Tuesday.
The win also kept the Red Wolves perfect in 12 all-time meetings with Rio since joining the NAIA.
Rio Grande fell to 11-15 overall and 4-8 in the RSC with its second consecutive loss.
The RedStorm were playing without the services of sophomore Gunner Short (Catlettsburg, KY), who missed the game with a sore knee, but still found themselves locked in an 18-18 tie after a bucket by senior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) with 9:07 left in the first half.
Unfortunately, those would be the last points scored by Rio for just over 10-1/2 minutes.
By the time the RedStorm scored their next point on a free throw by freshman Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) with 18:33 left to play, IUE had built a commanding 40-18 cushion and the contest was, for all intents and purposes, over and done with.
The Red Wolves eventually built a 31-point advantage, 64-33, following a three-pointer by Garrett Silcott with just over 8-1/2 minutes remaining and Rio got no closer than 19 points the rest of the way.
IU East shot 57 percent for the game — 60 percent in the opening half and 55.2% over the final 20 minutes — and connected on 11 of 19 three-point attempts (57.9%) against the nation’s fourth-ranked team in terms of three-point field goal defense.
Nine different players scored for the Red Wolves, with reigning RSC Player of the Week Bishop Smith netting a game-high 21 points. He also handed out a game-best six assists.
Silcott finished with 17 points and three blocked shots in the winning effort, while Jehu Lafeuillee tallied 12 points, a team-high seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks of his own.
Rio Grande, which shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first half, didn’t fare much better after the intermission and finished the game at 29.6 percent (16-for-54).
Blevins had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the RedStorm in a losing cause, while junior Dwaine Simmons (Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos) finished with 11 points and Tiggs was credited with five assists.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Saturday when Ohio Christian University pays a visit to the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Trailblazers are one of two teams — Point Park University is the other — that the RedStorm are battling for the final post-season bid out of the league’s East Division. The Pioneers come to Rio next Tuesday.
Saturday’s game against OCU is scheduled for a 3 p.m. tipoff.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.