Rio Grande men trample Trailblazers

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – For the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team to have any realistic hopes of earning a post-season berth, a win in Saturday afternoon’s game at Ohio Christian University was paramount.

The RedStorm responded with the program’s best single-game defensive effort in more than five years.

Head coach Ken French’s squad built a 17-point halftime lead and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way en route to a 66-46 rout of the Trailblazers in River States Conference action at the Maxwell Center.

Rio Grande ended a three-game losing streak, improving to 10-17 overall and 4-10 inside the RSC with the win.

The victory also gave the RedStorm a two-game lead over OCU for the fourth and final post-season berth out of the league’s East Division with three games left to play. Any combination of Rio wins or OCU losses totaling two will secure a spot in the RSC Tournament for Rio.

Ohio Christian dropped to 6-20 overall and 2-12 in league play with an eighth straight loss.

The 46 points scored by the Trailblazers were the fewest by an OCU team since an 86-47 loss to the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) on Nov. 9, 2016 and the fewest allowed by a Rio team since a 100-38 rout of Ohio University-Chillicothe on Nov. 7, 2014.

OCU also shot just 29.3 percent from the floor (17-for-58) – the lowest percentage by an opponent of the RedStorm since OU-Chillicothe shot just 22.7 percent in the aforementioned 2014 loss.

The Trailblazers trailed just 13-9 after a conventional three-point play by Troy Mundy with 12:50 left in the first half, but Rio went on a 17-2 run – capped by the stickback of an offensive rebound by junior Greg Wallace (Montego Bay, Jamaica) – to take a commanding 30-11 cushion with 8:04 remaining before the intermission.

The RedStorm settled on a 37-20 lead at the break before taking their largest lead of 21 points, 45-24, after a three-pointer by sophomore Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH) with 14:56 left in the contest.

Ohio Christian twice closed the deficit to 13 points, including 56-43 after a bucket by Justin Barksdale with 5:09 remaining, but got no closer the rest of the way.

Lamotte finished with a game-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and a trio of blocked shots. Junior Cameron Schreiter (Mason, OH) chipped in with 14 points and a game-best four assists, while senior Earl Russell (Warrington, England) had nine points, a game-high 11 rebounds and three blocked shots of his own.

Rio Grande shot 45.7 percent from the floor (26-for-57) and enjoyed a 40-31 edge in rebounding.

Barksdale led Ohio Christian with 15 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists and two steals, while Mundy had 11 points in a losing cause.

Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday night, traveling to Pittsburgh, Pa. to face Point Park University. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.