RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The number “32” will forever be associated with the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball program thanks to the exploits of the legendary Clarence “Bevo” Francis.
The same figure represented the number of points that sophomore Shiloah Blevins needed to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career entering Tuesday night’s home game against Carlow University.
And when the dust settled on the RedStorm’s 80-61 victory over the Celtics in River States Conference play at the Newt Oliver Arena, the South Webster, Ohio native was the center of celebratory attention.
Blevins finished with exactly 32 points — a new career-high — and connected on his milestone bucket with 52.1 seconds left to give Rio Grande its largest lead of the night.
Blevins also had six rebounds and handed out a team-high three assists in the victory.
The RedStorm bolted to a 14-0 lead to begin the game and extended their advantage to as many as 20 points late in the first half before settling on a 49-33 edge at the intermission.
Carlow did manage to make things a bit interesting when AJ Sharp capped a 9-0 run to pull the Celtics within 58-48 with 10:41 left to play, but Rio responded with an 11-1 run of its own over the next 4-1/2 minutes to re-establish a 20-point cushion with just over six minutes remaining.
The RedStorm’s lead never dipped below 16 points the rest of the way and reached its apex with Blevins’ final points of the evening.
Sophomore Miki Tadic (Hilversum, The Netherlands) also reached double figures for Rio Grande, finishing with 21 points — 18 of which came via six three-point goals. He also tied a season- and career-high with 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Taylor Mack (Akron, OH) had a game-high 12 rebounds and tied Blevins with three assists, while freshman Exauce Manissa (Point Noire, The Congo) snared 10 rebounds of his own to help the RedStorm tally a 54-36 advantage on the boards.
Rio shot just over 43 percent from the field overall (31-for-72), including a 9-for-19 showing from three-point range (47.4%), and committed just eight turnovers.
The only sore spot in the winning effort was a paltry 9-for-20 performance at the free throw line (45%).
Marcus Millien provided the bulk of Carlow’s offensive punch, scoring 26 points and equaling a season-high with 11 rebounds.
Riley Comforti had a game- and career-high 12 rebounds for the Celtics, while Nehemiah Brazil handed out five assists in a losing cause.
Carlow shot just under 40 percent overall (25-for-63), while going 4-for-15 from distance (26.7%) and 7-for-14 at the free throw line (50%).
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Saturday when it travels to Pittsburgh, Pa. to face Point Park University.
Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.