Eighth-seeded Shawnee State was eliminated by ninth-seeded Rio Grande 61-56 on Thursday evening in the Mid-South Conference Opening Round. The Bears close out the season with an overall record of 10-20. Rio Grande improves to 14-17 on the season and advances to play top-seeded Lindsey Wilson on Friday, March 2 in the MSC Quarterfinals.
In the first half neither team could find their rhythm. Shawnee State was able to stay in the game as they outshot Rio Grande 48 percent to 21 percent from the floor, despite turning the ball over 13 times.
Trailing 6-3 sophomore Andrew Devlin (Columbus, OH) hit a layup and sophomore Trevor Banks (Fort Pierce, FL) made a 3-pointers to take an 8-6 advantage over rival Rio Grande. A steal and a layup on the other end by junior Jeremy Bennington (Blue Creek, OH) and a basket by junior Tyler Boyles (Raceland, KY) capped off the Bears 9-0 run.
The RedStorm was able to recapture the lead as Evan Leg poured in 11 straight points, including three from long range to give Rio the 17-14 lead.
Freshman Austin Vance (Lenore, WV) answered for the Bears with a basket and a 3-ponter giving Shawnee the 19-17 advantage. Bennington expanded the Bears' lead with a 3-pointer off an inbound play and junior Tyler Morgan (Hamersville, OH) hit a jumper in the paint as time expired to give Shawnee the 24-20 lead at the break.
The Bears opened the second half with baskets by Morgan and Vance to extend their lead to 28-20. Rio Grande scored six unanswered points to pull within two two. Both teams fought hard, exchanging points and Rio's Tykeim Moss knotted the game at 45 with a basket with 12:33 left to play. Junior Jarred Quinlan broke the tie with a bucket and then found Morgan for two more to put the Bears back up four.
The RedStorm tied the game at 45 with a pair of free throws by Dominick Haynes, but free throws and a 3-pointer by Morgan extended Shawnee's lead, 50-45. Back-to-back baskets by Rio pulled them within one. Shawnee answered again hitting three free throws to extend lead to 53-49.
Brad Cubbie scored for the RedStorm to pull within two with 2:22 left in the game. On the other end, Devlin was sent to the line for two, where he made the first and missed the second, but Vance tracked down the rebound to give the Bears an extra possession. Boyles was fouled and made one-of-two from the charity strip to give Shawnee the 55-51 lead with under two minutes to play.
Rio's Turrell Morris answered with a layup to cut lead to 55-53. With 56 second remaining the RedStorm's Jermaine Warmack gave Rio their first lead of the second half, 56-55, as he hit a long range jumper. A miss by the Bears on the other end, sent Haynes to the line where he hit a free to extend Rio's lead to two.
Shawnee State had a chance to knot the game, but missed two free throws. A forced turnover by the Bears gave them another chance, but missed the shot and sent Warmack to the line. Rio Grande secured the victory as they went 4-for-4 at the line down the stretch to pull out the 61-56 win.
Shawnee had two players in double-figures. Morgan led the Bears with 14 points and five rebounds, while Vance scored 12 points.
Rio was led by Brad Cubbie's 14 point performance. Legg scored 11 points and Warmack finished with 10 points.
Shawnee State shot 40 percent in the game. From the floor, the RedStorm shot 35 percent. From beyond the arc the Bears made seven 3-pointers for 48 percent, while Rio Grande shot 40 percent. The Bears converted 13-of-22 free throws and the RedStorm shot 52 percent.
With the victory, Rio Grande moves on to play top-seed Lindsey Wilson in the Quarterfinals of the MSC Tournament on Friday, March 2 at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, KY.