MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Dion Smith scored a game-high 28 points and Nick Painter tossed in 25 points of his own as Marian (Ind.) University rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to post an 85-81 overtime win over the University of Rio Grande, Friday afternoon, in the opening round of the Cougar Homecoming Classic at Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Ariel Arena.
The Knights improved to 4-0 with the victory in a game that featured five ties and 12 lead changes.
The RedStorm suffered their first loss in four outings.
Dwight Cliff added 18 points in the win for Marian, which outscored Rio Grande, 23-7, at the free throw line.
Smith, who was 12-for-12 at the charity stripe, also had a team-high eight rebounds and three assists in the winning effort. Painter was 10-for-17 from the field and also had a team-high three steals.
Rio Grande, which committed a season-high 22 turnovers, also had three players in double figures.
Senior center Dwayne Bazemore (Columbus, OH) had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, while senior D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH) had 22 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Will Hill (Worthington, OH) had 17 points and a game-high seven assists.
The RedStorm appeared on their way to maintaining a perfect early season record, building a 13-point cushion, 51-38, after Bazemore hit one of two free throws with 18:05 left in regulation.
Smith capped a 16-4 run with a jumper in the lane that pulled Marian within one, 55-54, with 11:21 remaining, but Rio rebounded with nine straight points of its own to extend the lead back to 10 points, 64-54, after a jumper by senior Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) with just over nine minutes left.
Smith tied the game at 72-all on a jumper with 1:59 to play in regulation and Painter knotted the score again at 74 on a shot in the lane with 14 seconds left.
Rio’s last hope at winning in regulation faded when Smith blocked Black’s would-be game-winner as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
The RedStorm grabbed a three-point lead, 79-76, after a three-pointer by Hill with 3:38 left in the extra session, but the Knights closed the game on a 9-2 run to get the win.
Dwight Cliff’s stickback off of an offensive renbound with 39 seconds left put MU in front to stay.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday, battling host Mount Vernon Nazarene at 5 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.
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