PITTSBURGH, Pa. — While it took longer than usual to happen, once the University of Rio Grande finally answered its wakeup call it was business as usual.
The RedStorm, who’d made jumping on their opposition at the outset a habit of late, scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second half to erase a seven-point halftime deficit and kickstart an eventual 89-71 win over Carlow University, Saturday afternoon, in Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball action at Oakland Catholic High School’s Donahue Pavilion.
Rio Grande, ranked No. 23 in NAIA Division II, won for the ninth straight time to improve to 14-4 overall and 4-0 inside the KIAC.
The nine-game winning streak is the program’s longest since a 16-game stretch from Jan. 23-March 12, 2001.
Carlow slipped to 3-13 overall and 0-7 in league play with a 13th straight loss.
The Celtics actually led by as many as eight points late in the first half before settling on a 37-30 halftime advantage, but the RedStorm used their surge in the opening moments of the second stanza to gain control.
A three-pointer by senior guard D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH) with 17:10 remaining in the contest snapped a 39-39 tie and put Rio in front to stay, but Carlow still found itself within four, 56-52, after a bucket by John LeGrande with 9:23 left.
The RedStorm settled the issue once and for all, though, with a 15-2 run over the next 3:15, opening up a 71-54 advantage with 6:08 remaining following a basket by senior center Dwayne Bazemore (Columbus, OH).
The Celtics got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way and Rio led by as many as 20 points on three occasions in the final 4-1/2 minutes.
Joiner led Rio with 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots, while senior Kevonta Black (Nashville, TN) had 17 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Junior Matt Rhodes (Westerville, OH) added 14 points and seven rebounds to the winning effort, while Bazemore tallied 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
The RedStorm, who shot just 27.8 percent from the floor in the first half, connected on 25 of their 41 second half attempts (61.0%), while also finishing with a 53-49 edge in rebounding.
Carlow got 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds from Charlie Scharbo, while Isaac Fulwood contributed 11 points and a pair of steals.
The RedStorm return to action on Thursday night when West Virginia University Tech visits the Newt Oliver Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.