Updated Sun, Nov 24, 2013 3:28 pm
A late second half comeback led by senior Jermaine Warmack propelled the Rio Grande RedStorm to a 75-72 victory over Mid South Conference foe No. 10 Lindsey Wilson at Newt Oliver Arena.
The Redstorm snapped their two-game losing streak with the win and picked up their first ever victory over the Blue Raiders after losing their previous 11 matchups. Along with defeating this nationally ranked MSC powerhouse, Rio Grande also picked up its first win in the MSC this year while Lindsey Wilson falls to 0-2 in the conference.
After trailing 38-30 at halftime, the Redstorm, led by back-to-back 3-pointers by Evan Legg, went on a 10-0 run in the first four minutes of the second half pulling them ahead 40-39. This lead, however, was short lived for Rio as the Blue Raiders jumped out to a 64-58 lead with 6:32 remaining in the game.
When it seemed like Lindsey Wilson had all the momentum to close out the game, Jermaine Warmack decided to take matters into his own hands. Warmack scored 16 of the team’s last 19 points over a six-minute stretch, starting with a steal and diving layup to close the gap to 64-60. From there Warmack shot 8-of-8 from the free throw line and made back-to-back 3-pointers from three steps behind the left arc giving the RedStorm a 73-68 lead.
“My teammates always told me I need to be a leader,” Warmack said. “I played hard, and they gave me confidence to hit shots. It all started on the defensive end when I got the steal. Everything picked up, my team got me going and the ball just went in the hole… We fought hard and we didn’t give up as a team and we got it done.”
After a Rio turnover, Lindsey Wilson got the ball back down three with six seconds left. Daronte' Clark threw up a 3-point attempt to tie the game and send it into overtime but missed wide of the mark, sealing the victory for the RedStorm.
Warmack has certainly shown his leadership skills early on this year as well as his scoring ability. Warmack’s 22 points against Lindsey Wilson marked his second consecutive game with 22 points against an MSC opponent. When asked about Warmack, Rio Grande head coach Ken French had nothing but praise for his senior guard.
“He’s our guy. He’s our floor general, and he’s our senior,” French said. “When Jermaine plays well he makes us better and today he was the best player on the floor. He played really well and when he plays really well it makes me a better coach. That’s what seniors are supposed to do and that’s what he’s doing right now.”
Sophomore guard Phillip Hertz fouled out with two minutes remaining in the game. He scored only two points in the second half after leading the team with 13 points at halftime. The RedStorm also lost D.D. Joiner, who reinjured his foot early in the contest.
“We were short handed and we had other guys step up and make plays,” French said. “We happened to have two league games this week, and we let one get away on Thursday. My guys came back today and played like Saturday warriors and our guys did a good job of fighting through the game today.”
Chase Cox led the Blue Raiders with 13 points off the bench while Clark and Ja'Ln Williams had 10 points each. Coming into this season, Rio Grande was ranked 10th in the MSC while Lindsey Wilson came into this game ranked 10th in the nation.
“We’ve got a tremendous respect for Coach Peck, his program, and what they do,” French said. “Year in and year out they are the toughest in the Mid-South. They’re always in the mix of winning the league because of their toughness and how hard they play. That’s the first time we’ve beaten them since we’ve been in the league so we made some history today. It means a lot to our program and to our guys.”
Rio Grande does not play again until Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Ohio Christian University, which will be only its second away game so far this season. During the break, French stressed the importance of continuing their success.
“We want to carry this over and continue this,” French said. “Plus we’ve got some guys that need to heal. We’ve got some things execution wise we have to clean up and this will give us a little break here to work on it.”