Quick start fuels Rio men past Ohio Christian

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande hit eight of its nine three-pointers in the first half, building a 16-point lead at the intermission and posting an eventual 73-62 over Ohio Christian University, Tuesday night, in the River States Conference men’s basketball action at the Maxwell Center.

The RedStorm (15-13 overall, 9-7 RSC) won for a fourth straight time, completing a season sweep of the Trailblazers in the process.

OCU dropped to 9-17 overall and 6-10 in league play with the loss.

Rio Grande never trailed in the contest and, in fact, led by as many as 17 points with just over four minutes left in the first half, but the host Blazers managed to make things a bit interesting after the intermission by slicing the deficit down to separate occasions.

The last of those situations came at 62-55 following a three-pointer by Jimmy Salamone with 3:24 remaining, but the RedStorm responded with a 5-1 run to regain an 11-point cushion, 67-56, after sophomore Taylor Mack (Akron, OH) hit one of two free throws with 1:17 left and OCU got no closer than nine the rest of the way.

Rio Grande shot just 39 percent overall in the opening half, but half of its 16 successful field goals came from beyond the three-point arc.

Sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) hit five of Rio’s eight first half trifectas and scored 17 of his game-high 23 points before the break. He also finished with six rebounds.

Sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) also had 23 points in the winning effort, while freshman Khamani Smith (Fort Wayne, IN) tossed in 10 points and freshman Caleb Wallis (Jackson, OH) equaled a career-high with 10 assists.

Freshman Exauce Manissa (Point Noire, The Congo) added a team-high seven rebounds for the RedStorm, who finished 28-for-70 overall (40%), 9-for-29 from three-point range (31%) and 8-for-14 at the free throw line (57.15).

The RedStorm was outrebounded, 36-32, but had just five turnovers.

Salamone had 15 points in a losing cause for the Trailblazers, while Yuryk Lazard scored 14 points and pulled down a game-best nine rebounds.

Juan Woods added 10 points for OCU, while Justin Barksdale also had nine rebounds.

The Blazers shot 42.9 percent overall (24-for-56) and were 11-for-15 at the foul line (73.3%), but hit just three of 12 three-point tries (25%).

Rio Grande will close out the regular season portion of its schedule on Thursday when it hosts Midway University in the makeup of an earlier COVID-19 postponement.

Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Newt Oliver Arena.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.