RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Travis Elliott canned a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to lift the University of Rio Grande to a 78-77 win over rival Shawnee State University, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference men’s basketball action.
The RedStorm, who won for the fourth straight time, improved to 11-5 overall and 4-1 in the MSC.
Shawnee State slipped to 7-9 overall and 1-4 in league play.
Elliott’s go-ahead free throws came on Rio’s ensuing possession after Shawnee State’s Mark Bryant had put the Bears in front by connecting on a jumper with 35.3 seconds remaining.
The free throws also gave the RedStorm the lead for good in a back-and-forth affair which featured a whopping 12 ties and 14 lead changes.
Shawnee State’s last gasp at winning on the game’s final possession went by the wayside when Bryant’s inbounds pass was knocked away by Rio Grande senior guard Ricky Tisdale (Bolivar, TN) and time expired.
Rio jumped to a 20-8 lead just over five minutes into the contest, but the Bears methodically chipped away at the deficit and grabbed a 33-32 lead of their own after a pair of Devon Carter free throws with 4:17 left in the half.
The RedStorm quickly regained the advantage, but Shawnee closed the half on a 6-0 run - including a layup by Andrew Bendolph with just over one second remaining - to take a 39-38 lead at the intermission.
Neither team led by more than four points in the opening seven minutes of the second stanza, but the Bears managed to take their biggest lead of the day, 57-53, after a bucket by Ethan Moffatt with 12:04 left to play.
Rio Grande responded with an 8-0 run to take its own four-point advantage with 10:31 remaining, but five straight points by Shawnee State gave the lead back to the visitors and kickstarted a roller-coaster finish that saw six ties and five lead changes over the final 9-1/2 minutes.
Rio Grande shot 53.7 percent from the floor overall (29-for-54) to overcome three more turnovers than the Bears (12-9) and a 34-31 rebounding deficit.
Elliott, a junior guard from Ironton, Ohio, had 13 points to lead 10 different scorers for the RedStorm. He also tied for team-high honors with four assists.
Sophomore forward Phillip Hertz (Rungsted Kyst, Denmark) added 12 points and junior guard Evan Legg (Piketon, OH) finished with 10 points in the win. Senior guard Jermaine Warmack (Orange, NJ) equaled Elliott’s mark of four assists.
Bryant had a game-high 20 points to pace a quartet of double-digit scorers for Shawnee State, which shot 49.2 percent (29-for-59) on the day.
Trevor Banks netted 14 points in a losing cause for the Bears, while Andrew Devlin finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Bendolph also had 10 points.
Rio Grande will return to action on Thursday night when St. Catharine College visits the Newt Oliver Arena for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.