RIO GRANDE, Ohio — In the end, it was a hole that was just too deep to crawl out of.
Ohio Christian University built an 18-point second half lead, but was forced to survive a fierce rally by the University of Rio Grande en route to a 73-60 win over the RedStorm, Saturday night, in River States Conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Trailblazers improved to 4-8 overall and 1-1 in league play with their first road win of the season.
Rio Grande slipped to 4-6 overall and 0-2 in the RSC with a second straight loss.
The RedStorm enjoyed a 19-15 lead after a bucket by junior Greg Wallace (Montego Bay, Jamaica) with 8:10 left in the first half, but OCU reeled off 25 of the final 31 points in the half to open up a 40-25 lead at the intermission.
The Blazers’ cushion reached 18 points, 48-30, after a layup by Antonio Hamilton with 14:48 remaining before Rio began to roar to life.
The RedStorm produced a 17-4 run of their own over the next 6-1/2 minutes, slicing the deficit to just 52-47 following a pair of free throws by senior Earl Russell (Warrington, England).
The Rio rally went no further, though.
A 12-4 run by OCU resulted in a 64-51 advantage for the Trailblazers after a pair of Troy Mundy free throws with 3:40 left to play and the RedStorm got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Rio outrebounded its guest, 42-30, but shot just 32 percent in the first half (8-for-25), 36 percent for the game (20-for-55) and was 4-for-15 from three-point range.
The RedStorm also committed 20 turnovers.
Junior Cameron Schreiter (Mason, OH) led Rio with 18 points, while junior Hadith Tiggs (Mayfield Heights, OH) had 10 points and a game-best six assists.
Wallace, who played a big role in the second half rally, nearly had a double-double, finishing with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds in just over 14 minutes of playing time.
Rael Windley led Ohio Christian with a game-high 25 points, connecting on nine of his 11 field goal attempts and hitting six of the Trailblazers’ 11 three-point goals.
Mundy had 16 points, three assists, two steals and tied Windley for team honors with eight rebounds, while Justin Barksdale and Corey Wyman added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Rio Grande will return to action next Saturday when it hosts East-West University as part of the Newt Oliver Classic.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.