PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Corey Cruse and Will Hill scored 14 points each to lift the University of Rio Grande past rival Shawnee State University 65-59 in non-conference men’s basketball action on Tuesday night at Waller Gymnasium.
The RedStorm (11-14) won for the fifth time in six outings and earned a season split with the Bears.
Shawnee State, which defeated Rio in the championship game of the Bevo Francis Tournament back in November, suffered a seventh straight loss in falling to 7-15.
Cruse, a senior from Fort Mitchell, Ky., had baskets on consecutive possessions — one a three-pointer and the other a jumper along the baseline — to kickstart a 12-3 run which gave Rio Grande the lead for good after the Bears had rallied to erase a double-digit deficit.
Hill, a junior from Worthington, Ohio, connected on three of the RedStorm’s five trifectas in the win — and went 3-for-4 at the free throw line during the late-game run.
Rio Grande led most of the night, using a 12-0 first-half run to erase an early 11-7 deficit and eventually build a 32-26 advantage at halftime.
The RedStorm’s cushion reached as many as 10 points, 39-29, following a bucket by junior Devon Price with 17:35 left to play, but the Bears roared back with nine consecutive points of their own — and eventually tied the game at 49-49 on a steal and dunk by Selby Hind-Wills with 6:11 remaining.
Cruse’s three-pointer and jumper on Rio’s next two possessions began the game-winning run.
Senior Josh Thompson narrowly missed a double-double for Rio, finishing with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.
He also had two blocked shots to share game-high honors with junior teammate Kenny Council.
Price also handed out a game-best four assists in the winning effort.
Frederick Moore and Jayllen Carter netted 16 and 12 points, respectively, to lead Shawnee State, while J. Murrell and Jacob Daniels had eight rebounds each in a losing cause.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday afternoon at 22nd-ranked West Virginia University-Tech.
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Baisi Athletic Center in Montgomery, W.Va.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande