RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The chance to square their overall record, while at the same time taking some momentum into the resumption of conference play, was a proposition that the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team couldn’t pass up.
The RedStorm coughed up a 13-point first half lead, but roared to life again over the final 12 minutes en route to a 77-64 win over Miami University-Hamilton, Sunday afternoon, in non-conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande evened its overall mark at 8-8 with a second straight win.
MU-Hamilton, the top-ranked team in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II coaches’ poll and a winner in each of its three previous outings this season against River States Conference schools such as Rio, dropped to 13-4 with the loss.
The Harriers led only briefly in the early part of the contest and trailed 36-23 late in the opening half before mounting a comeback effort.
The deficit was sliced to eight points, 38-30, by halftime and erased altogether when a layup by Jamison Bradley with 12:05 remaining in the game gave the guests a 47-45 advantage.
Rio Grande’s new-found deficit didn’t last long, though.
Sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) drilled a three-pointer on the RedStorm’s ensuing possession, kickstarting an 11-0 run over the 3-1/2 minutes which gave the home team a lead it would never relinquish.
MU-Hamilton hit consecutive three-pointers on each of its next two possessions to draw within 56-53 with 7:42 left to play, but the Harriers got no closer the rest of the way.
Rio Grande responded with a 19-5 over the next six minutes to open its largest lead of the day, 75-58, following an offensive rebound and stick back by sophomore Shiloah Blevins (South Webster, OH).
Tadic connected on a season-high seven trifectas en route to a game-high 25 points for the RedStorm.
Blevins equaled a season-best with 21 points, while also finishing with a game-high nine rebounds and a team-high five assists.
Freshman Cody Lantz (Shelby, OH) contributed 11 points to the winning effort, while sophomore Taylor Mack (Akron, OH) finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Rio Grande hit just 12 of its 44 three-point tries (27.3%), but finished 30-for-73 overall (41.1%) had an overwhelming 44-30 edge in rebounding.
The RedStorm also committed just eight turnovers.
Ryan Marchal and King Goss tallied 20 points each to pace Miami-Hamilton, while Bradley tossed in 15 to go along with a team-best seven rebounds.
Marchal also had a game-high six assists and five steals in a losing cause.
The Harriers actually enjoyed a better shooting percentage, both overall (24-for-53, 45.3%) and from three-point range (8-for-18, 44.4%), but hit just eight of 14 free throw attempts (57.1%) and had 11 turnovers.
Rio Grande returns to River States Conference play on Thursday night when it hosts Midway University for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.