RIO GRANDE, Ohio — For the better part of one half, the University of Rio Grande went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the nation.
But a five-minute stretch at the start of the second stanza snuffed out any hopes that the RedStorm had of pulling an upset and recording a signature win.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University parlayed a 13-4 run to begin the second half into a commanding 16-point lead and an eventual 63-45 win over Rio Grande, Tuesday night, in non-conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Cougars, who are ranked No. 8 in the latest NAIA Division II coaches’ poll, pushed their overall record to 5-0 with the victory.
The RedStorm, who suffered a sixth straight setback at the hands of MVNU, evened its ledger at 2-2 with the loss.
While Rio trailed for nearly all of the opening half, it remained within striking distance throughout and was down just 28-21 at the intermission.
But Mount Vernon Nazarene essentially put the RedStorm away by scoring 13 of the first 17 points in the second half to build a 16-point advantage, 41-25, following a jumper in the lane by Austin Jones with 15:11 to play in the contest.
Jones, one of four MVNU players to finish in double figures, scored six of his 10 points during the scoring spurt.
The cushion continued to grow, reaching as many as 28 points after an Isaac White three-pointer with 3:26 left to play made it 62-34, while Rio Grande scored 11 of the game’s final 12 points to make the final score a bit more respectable.
The RedStorm shot just 35 percent from the field overall (14-for-40) and 60 percent at the free throw line (12-for-20), while also getting out rebounded, 35-21.
Junior Kyle Lamotte (Mason, OH) was Rio’s only double-digit scorer with 11 points. Sophomore Markus Geldenhuys (Pretoria, South Africa) pulled down a team-high six rebounds in a losing cause.
White led Mount Vernon Nazarene with 14 points, while Jevon Knox and Jacob Paul netted 11 points apiece.
Paul also had a game-high eight rebounds for the Cougars, who shot 58 percent in the second half (14-for-24) and 51 percent for the game (26-for-51).
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night in the opening round of the Walters Classic hosted by the University of Pikeville.
The RedStorm will play Simmons College of Kentucky, with tipoff set for 6 p.m. at UPike Gymnasium.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.