PORTSMOUTH – Men's basketball went into halftime knotted at 29-all with No. 19 Rio Grande. However, the nationally-ranked RedStorm (16-7, 9-3 MSC) outscored the Bears (8-15, 2-10 MSC) 44-34 over the final 20 minutes to take a 73-63 win on the road against Shawnee State.
Four players finished with double figure scoring totals for the Bears as they were led by 15 points and nine rebounds from Ethan Moffatt. Moffatt was named the team's Dick Hyland Player of the Game after setting new career highs in scoring and rebounding. Andrew Bendolph added 14 points to the team's scoring, while Trevor Banks and Mark Bryant finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Rio Grande's Josh Reagan scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds as he was named the RedStorm's Dick Hyland recipient.
Shawnee State flustered the Rio Grande offense early on as the RedStorm did not score until 3:22 into the contest. Rio Grande scored its fourth point just a minute later but would be stuck on that number for a while as the Bears built a 14-4 lead with 13:17 to play in the opening half. Rio Grande added its fifth point a short while later before both teams would go cold from the floor.
Two free throws from the RedStorm with 9:38 to play in the opening half got Rio Grande back within seven points. The RedStorm eventually got back within three points, 17-14, with 6:21 to play after holding the Bears' offense to just three points in over seven minutes of play. The RedStorm continued to narrow the gap and eventually knotted the game at 25-all with 3:04 to play in the opening half. Two times the Bears would take the lead that same half after being tied but both times the RedStorm got two points from Reagan to send the game to halftime with the score 29-29.
The Bears scored the opening points in the second half with a basket from Dante Dunston before the RedStorm tied the game for the fourth time in the evening. Banks then put the Bears up by two again with a pair of free throws and Shawnee State would not trail or be tied until there was 13:47 left to play and the score was tied at 39-all after a pair of Rio Grande free throws. The RedStorm hit a three on their next trip down the court and after not holding a lead for over 27 minutes straight of playing time, they would not trail again the rest of the evening.
By the time there was 6:29 left on the clock, a three from Reagan had completely turned the tables on the Bears as they now trailed by 10 points, 58-48. Bendolph halted the Rio Grande run with an old fashioned 3-point play on the next possession which was followed up with a basket from Bryant, cutting the deficit to five points. However, the RedStorm answered with five straight points of their own to go back up by 10, 63-53, with 4:57 to play.
The closest Shawnee State would come for the remainder of the contest was a seven point deficit, 67-60, with 1:54 to play after a pair of free throws from Moffatt. However, Rio Grande would make their free throws to prevent it from getting any closer and prevailed by a 73-63 final at the buzzer.
Shawnee State finished with a better shooting percentage from the field than its counterparts; however, the RedStorm took 43 free throw attempts in the game and made 30 of those tries. On the other hand, Shawnee State was just 9-of-17 from the free throw line.
Men's basketball will be back on the road next week as it begins a full weekend of conference play next Thursday against St. Catharine in a scheduled 8 p.m. start.