ST. CATHARINE, Ky. — The latest men’s basketball meeting between the University of Rio Grande and St. Catharine College played out as each of their previous four get-togethers had—right down to the wire.
Unfortunately for the RedStorm, for the fourth time in those five meetings, it was the Patriots who emerged victorious.
Arthur McMillan and William Tolefree scored 14 points each to help St. Catharine rally from an early deficit and then hang on down the stretch for a 73-67 win over Rio Grande, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference action at Lourdes Hall.
Omar Skinner and Kevin Kornegay added 13 and 12 points, respectively, in the win for the Patriots, who improved to 8-8 overall and 2-6 in league play.
Rio Grande fell to 6-12 overall and 2-7 in league play, one-half game behind St. Catharine at the bottom of the MSC standings.
The RedStorm coughed up an early 15-point lead before falling just short in a comeback effort of its own, nearly rallying from 13 points down with just over 11 minutes to play.
St. Catharine led 53-40 after Kornegay drained one of his four trifectas on the afternoon with 11:08 remaining, but Rio slowly began to chip away at the deficit and eventually made it a one-possession game after a three-pointer by senior guard Kaleb Kimber made it 65-62 with 2:20 left to play.
However, Nick Porter answered with a three-pointer of his own on St. Catharine’s ensuing possession - with just two seconds showing on the shot clock – to make it a two-possession game again at 68-62 with 1:46 remaining.
It was Porter’s only field goal of the contest.
The RedStorm twice got back within four points inside the game’s final 90 seconds – 68-64 following a pair of free throws by senior center Dominick Haynes with 1:21 left and 71-67 after a runner in the lane by Kimber with 21.6 seconds remaining – but head coach Ken French’s team could get no closer.
Porter hit one of two free throw attempts with 19.5 seconds left and Skinner went 1-for-2 at the charity stripe with 1.9 seconds remaining to set the final score.
The game’s final outcome bared no resemblance to how the contest started.
Rio Grande raced to a 16-1 lead out of the gate, but the Patriots countered with a 22-6 run of their own over the next 9-1/2 minutes and took a 23-22 lead on a Travis Wilkins dunk with 6:40 left before the intermission.
The first half eventually ended in a 27-all deadlock, but St. Catharine opened the second stanza on a 15-4 run to open up a 42-31 advantage following a short jumper in the lane by Tolefree with 15:17 remaining in the game. The lead grew to 13 points just over four minutes later, setting up Rio Grande’s comeback attempt down the stretch.
The RedStorm were forced to continue their comeback effort over the final 7:43 without the services of freshman guard D.D. Joiner, who suffered an apparent knee injury while scrambling after an offensive rebound.
Joiner, who led Rio in scoring with 16 points in his return to the lineup despite the early departure, will be examined on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Rio Grande also got 12 points from Kimber in the loss, while Haynes and freshman forward Austin McMaster snared seven rebounds each. Junior guard Jermaine Warmack added a game-high six steals.
Skinner added a game-high eight assists and team-best four steals for SCC, while Wilkins contributed a game-high nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Rio Grande returns to action on Thursday night, hosting MSC newcomer Bluefield College for an 8 p.m. tipoff at the Newt Oliver Arena.