RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande jumped to a 22-point first half lead, but had to survive a second half comeback attempt by Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg before pulling away again late for a 79-58 win over the Pioneers, Saturday evening, in the final round of the Bevo Francis Classic at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm moved beyond the .500 mark for the first time this season with the victory, improving to 3-2.
CU-Harrodsburg, which had its opening game in the Classic on Friday against Ohio Christian cancelled by COVID-related issues, slipped to 1-2 with the loss.
Rio Grande appeared to be headed for a blowout win, opening up a 32-10 advantage after a three-pointer by sophomore Miroslav “Miki” Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) with 5:40 left in the opening half, but the Pioneers sliced the deficit to 14 by the intermission and closed the gap to just seven, 46-39, after a bucket by Aamaj Platt with 11:29 remaining in the game.
The RedStorm responded with a five-point swing less than a minute later, thanks to a conventional three-point play by sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) and a pair of free throws by freshman Andrew Shull (Milton, WV) after a technical foul against Platt, to regain a 12-point cushion.
Rio Grande led by no less than 10 points the rest of the way and even pushed their edge to as many as 26 points, 76-50, following a three-point goal by senior Bobby Anderson (Catlettsburg, KY) with 1:40 left.
Blevins led a quartet of Rio players in double figures with 20 points, while Shull and Tadic tossed in 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Freshman Reedetris Richardson (Atlanta, GA) added a career-high 12 points, a game-high nine rebounds and two blocks to the winning effort, while Shull added five assists and three steals.
The RedStorm shot 45 percent overall (24-for-53), while going 11-for-22 from three-point range and 20-for-28 from the free throw line.
CU-Harrodsburg shot just 25 percent in the first half (8-for-32) and 35 percent for the game (23-for-65), while going just 2-for-16 from beyond the three-point arc.
Chris Rawlins led the Pioneers with 18 points, while Tyron Duncan finished with 15 points and a team-best eight rebounds.
Rio Grande is slated to return to action on Wednesday afternoon at Shawnee State University.
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.