RIO GRANDE, Ohio — For the third time in a span of five days, the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team failed to parlay a halftime lead into an eventual victory.
Patrick White scored 16 of his team-high 23 points in the second half to lead Cincinnati Christian University in a come-from-behind 85-81 win over the RedStorm, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Eagles evened their overall record at 11-11 and moved to 6-4 in league play with the victory.
Rio Grande slipped to 9-15 overall and 4-8 in the RSC with the loss – its fifth in seven games against team’s from the league’s West Division. Three of the five cross-division losses were by five points or less.
The loss also sends the RedStorm into fifth place in the RSC East Division, one-half game behind Ohio Christian University, which won at Midway University on Saturday afternoon.
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the upcoming RSC Tournament beginning in late February.
Saturday’s game, which produced nine ties and 18 lead changes, saw Rio Grande rally from as many as five points down in the opening half to take a 40-38 lead at the intermission on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by sophomore Stanley Christian (Norfolk, VA).
The RedStorm extended their advantage to as many as five points, 57-52, after a three-pointer by senior Will Hill (Worthington, OH) with 11:05 remaining, but CCU responded with a 10-4 run of its own over the next 3-1/2 minutes and grabbed a 62-61 lead on a three-point goal by Preston Patterson with 7:38 left to play.
Rio Grande got the lead back 19 seconds later on a pair of free throws by junior Abe Eze (Lagos, Nigeria), but Patterson tied the game at 63-63 by hitting one of two free throws with 7:02 remaining and White put the Eagles in front to stay with two more free throws at the 6:30 mark.
The RedStorm got to within one point on four different occasions over the next 2-1/2 minutes, but got no closer.
Rio found itself within 83-81 after the second of back-to-back dunks by Christian with 5.0 seconds left, but CCU’s Kobe Brown sealed the win by hitting a pair of free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Brown totaled 18 points and a game-high three assists in the winning effort for the Eagles, while Blake Walsman finished with 14 points and game-high 15 rebounds.
CCU shot 56 percent from the field (28-for-50) and out rebounded the RedStorm, 31-29.
Hill had a game-high 34 points in the loss for Rio, while also handing out three assists.
Christian finished with a career-high 28 points and a team-best eight rebounds for the RedStorm, while freshman Raul Timoner (Alaior, Spain) also had three assists and freshman Jaxon Burgess (Louisville, KY) had three steals.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Tuesday night, traveling to rival Shawnee State University in its final non-conference game of the season.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.