Updated Mon, Jan 27, 2014 11:19 am
No lead is safe in the Mid-South Conference on unpredictable Saturday afternoons.
Josh Reagan played his greatest game of the year, netting a game-high 46 points to elevate Rio Grande to an 88-85 victory over Bluefield College Rams.
Bluefield failed to create a defensive game plan to prevent Reagan from doing what he does best. The junior forward used his 6-foot-6 frame to drive his way to the basket all game long, finishing the night with only two misses from the field (17-19). Reagan added nine rebounds, a 3-pointer and 11 points from the free-throw line to his already impressive resume.
“We stuck together today and this was a good bounce back victory,” Reagan said. “This was not an easy win by any means but it was a great team victory.”
An easy victory in the competitive MSC doesn’t come around very often, if ever.
Seven Rams saw their names flash on the scoreboard in the first ten minutes of action. Talent from the bench didn’t come from the RedStorm early in the game as Reagan, Joiner, and Warmack accounted for 35 of Rio’s first half points.
Rio and Bluefield tied the game five times in the first half and left the hardwood for the locker room with the contest tied yet again at 43.
Rio Grande’s season-leading scorer, Phillip Hertz, stormed out of the locker room for the second half with an appetite to score. Hertz netted the first 11 of 18 points for Rio before giving up a pair of quick fouls that forced him to sit and watch from the bench with 12:28 remaining in the game.
The loss of Hertz proved to be detrimental to the weary RedStorm. Rio gave up an 11-point lead, handing Bluefield the momentum in front of an already wild Bluefield crowd.
Kearsten Marion knocked down a critical three-point shot to cut Bluefield’s deficit to three with 16 seconds remaining. He finished the night 10-17 from the field and 5-9 from behind the arc. Marion put on an offensive clinic, but his sharp-shooting talent wasn’t enough to propel his team to victory as Rio rolled on to win a nail-biter.
Rio Grande improved to 14-6 overall and 7-2 in the conference with the exhilarating victory.
“Our guys played hard. We had to gut this one out because this a tough place to play in,” head coach Ken French said.
Rio earned a spot in the NAIA Division I national rankings earlier in the week before falling 96-78 to Pikeville on Thursday night . The RedStorm proved they’ re not finished battling for the top spot in the conference with this statement win over a very talented Bluefield team on the road.
“Anytime you go on the road and get a win in this league its huge.”
Rio Grande will host Georgetown on Jan. 30 in the Newt Oliver Arena at 8 p.m. The Georgetown Tigers rank third in the MSC behind Rio and have to be itching for revenge after Rio stormed into their home court and knocked off the previously No. 2 ranked Tigers earlier in the month.