RICHMOND, Ind. — When all was said and done, Indiana University East did manage to keep its perfect all-time record against the University of Rio Grande intact.
But the Red Wolves’ latest victory over the RedStorm was one they certainly had to earn.
A 10-0 second half run snapped a 55-all tie and a game-closing 5-0 run secured a 77-69 triumph for the home team, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference men’s basketball action at the Student Activity Center.
IU East improved to 7-6 overall and 3-0 in league play with the win, its 14th in as many tries against the RedStorm.
Rio Grande fell to 5-5 overall and 3-2 in the RSC with the loss.
The RedStorm forged the last of the 13 ties in the contest when freshman Exauce Manissa (Point Noire, The Congo) hit one of two free throws with 8:21 remaining to make it 55-55, but the Red Wolves responded with a jumper by Jehu Lafeuillee on their ensuing possession and never trailed again.
The bucket actually started a run which gave IUE its largest lead of the day, 65-55, following a jumper by Dionte Raines with 5:21 left.
Rio Grande refused to go away quietly, though, and twice closed the gap to three points inside the game’s final three minutes.
The second of those two instances came with 1:36 left to play when a three-pointer by freshman Khamani Smith (Fort Wayne, IN) got the RedStorm within 72-69, but Rio missed a three-pointer and the front end of two one-and-bonus free throw opportunities over its final three possessions allowing the Red Wolves to hold on.
Rio Grande twice led by as many as five points inside the first 5-1/2 minutes of the game, but IUE closed the first half on a 4-0 run to take a 34-31 lead at the intermission.
The RedStorm’s biggest advantage in the second half was four points after a three-pointer by Smith with 14:03 remaining made it 45-41 and their final cushion of the contest came when a three-pointer by freshman Caleb Wallis (Jackson, OH) with 9:06 left produced a 54-53 lead.
Jamisen Smith scored a game-high 21 points and handed out a team-high three assists in the winning effort, while Bryce Long finished with 12 points and the duo of Lafeuillee and Garrett Silcott netted 11 points each.
Nate Soltis had a game-high eight rebounds to lead the Wolves, who shot 55.6 percent from the floor (30-for-54) and enjoyed a 15-6 scoring advantage at the free throw line.
Sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) had 17 points and a game-high three blocked shots to lead Rio Grande, while Smith had 16 points and Wallis finished with 15 points and a game-best five assists.
Sophomore Taylor Mack (Akron, OH) and freshman Cody Lantz (Shelby, OH) led the RedStorm with six rebounds.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.