Rio Grande Sports Information
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio - Just four days after enduring a gut-wrenching double overtime loss at home to 12th-ranked Indiana University East, the University of Rio Grande men's basketball team watched another of their spirited efforts go for naught.
Marquis Jackson poured in a game-high 30 points, including two on a pair of free throws with 8.3 seconds remaining, to seal Ohio Christian University's 78-74 win over the RedStorm, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference action at the Maxwell Center.
The Trailblazers improved to 17-12 overall and 11-5 in the RSC, winning for the fifth straight time and the 11th time in 14 outings since suffering a four-point loss to Rio at the Newt Oliver Arena back in December.
Rio Grande fell for the third straight time, slipping to 11-17 overall and 6-9 in league play.
Despite the loss, head coach Ken French's squad still holds a one game lead over Point Park University for the East Division's fourth and final spot in the upcoming conference tournament. The two will square off next Friday at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Saturday's tilt with OCU was a nip-and-tuck affair from the outset, with six ties and 13 lead changes over the course of the afternoon.
Rio Grande jumped a 14-5 lead in the game's first four minutes, but the Trailblazers responded with 15 of the game's next 20 points to take their first lead of the day, 20-19, after a bucket by Gary Hoover with 11:14 remaining in the first half.
A three-pointer by Rio junior Will Hill (Worthington, OH) knotted the score at 44-44 just a minute into the second half, but OCU took the lead for good on a jumper by Jalen Hearn with 17:54 left to play. The basket kickstarted a 15-6 run which produced the largest lead of the day for the home team, 59-50, after a layup by John Johnson with 12:15 remaining.
The RedStorm refused to go quietly, though, and eventually drew to within one, 68-67, following a three-pointer by Hill with 5:39 still to play.
Rio got as close as one point four more times before the day was done, including 75-74 after a twisting layup by senior Corey Cruse with 47 seconds left, but could get no closer.
Rinjard Hartman extended the OCU lead to 76-74 after hitting one of two free throws with 31.4 seconds remaining, while Rio's last shot at forging a tie went by the wayside when Cruse failed to convert on a pair of shots in the lane with just over 10 seconds left.
Jackson, a conference Player of the Year candidate, was fouled with 8.3 seconds remaining and nailed both ends of the one-and-bonus situation at the free throw line to settle the issue once and for all.
Jackson, who also had a team-high three assists and two steals to go along with his 30 points, was one of only two OCU players in double figures. Claude Bogan was the other, finishing with a career-high 15 points - all in the first half.
Hoover added 12 rebounds for the Trailblazers.
Freshman Stanley Christian (Norffolk, VA) led Rio Grande with a career-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds. He finished 11-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-3 from three-point range.
Hill added 23 points, including 15 on five three-point goals, and a team-best four assists in the loss, while senior Josh Thompson (Bronx, NY) equaled Hoover's game-best total with a career-high 12 rebounds.