RIO GRANDE, Ohio — It might not have been the most picturesque of victories, but that didn’t mean University of Rio Grande men’s basketball head coach Ryan Arrowood was willing to give it back.
Not on the heels of the RedStorm’s blowout loss in their River States Conference home opener last Tuesday.
Arrowood’s club shook off the aftereffects of a 33-point setback at the hands of WVU-Tech, rallying from a six-point second half deficit to post a 64-59 conference win over Ohio Christian University, Tuesday night, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande evened its overall record at 4-4 and improved to 3-1 against RSC foes.
Ohio Christian, which was playing for the first time in three weeks after having its early season slate raveged by COVID-19, dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in league play.
The Trailblazers thrice trailed by as many as seven points in the opening half and were still down by six, 35-29, after a three-pointer by Rio freshman Khamani Smith (Fort Wayne, IN) with 18:09 left in the game before mounting their biggest rally of the night.
OCU followed Smith’s trifecta with a 15-3 run over the next seven minutes and took their largest lead of the contest, 44-38, following a Keason Lowe layup with 11:02 remaining.
Rio Grande mounted its own comeback effort, though, by reeling off 14 consecutive points and opening up a 52-44 advantage with 6:38 left to play.
A three-pointer by sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH) capped the scoring spurt and was one of a trio of long-range bombs — two by Blevins and one by Smith — during the run.
The RedStorm maintained a lead of between five and nine points the rest of the way, although Ohio Christian did manage to get within four points on one occasion, 63-59, following a three-point goal by Juan Woods with 20 seconds remaining.
Rio Grande managed the win despite hitting just nine of its 17 free throw attempts (52.9%), getting outrebounded, 37-33, and committing a season-high 16 turnovers.
Ohio Christian — which played without the services of its leading scorer (Jimmy Salamone, 21.7 ppg) and senior standout (forward Justin Barksdale) — had its own struggles to deal with, going 2-for-11 from three-point range (18.2%) and hitting just seven of 16 free throw tries (43.8%).
Blevins led Rio with 16 points, while also tying for team-high honors in both rebounds (7) and assists (4). Sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) finished with 12 points, while also tallying seven rebounds and four assists.
Freshman Caleb Wallis (Jackson, OH) also had four assists for the RedStorm, while sophomore Taylor Mack (Akron, OH) had three steals.
Lowe had a game- an season-high 17 points to lead Ohio Christian, while Ben Casey finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Devon Miller and Woods also reached double figures in a losing cause, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Saturday when it travels to Ohio Valley University.
Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Snyder Activity Center in Vienna, W.Va.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.