Rio Edges UC-Clermont, 94-92

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The Rio Grande RedStorm needed a pair of free throws from senior point guard Jermaine Warmack with 3.3 seconds left in the game to narrowly defeat the Cincinnati-Clermont Cougars at home 94-92. This marks Rio Grande’s last non-conference game of the season, as the RedStorm were able to snap their three-game losing streak.

After an eight-day break, the RedStorm started out shaky and trailed the Cougars 56-48 at the half. Rio, however, was able to tie the game at 65-65 with less than 14 minutes remaining. From there, the RedStorm went on an offensive tear and gained an 89-79 lead with only 5:29 left on the clock.

It looked as though Rio Grande had sealed the victory, but the Cougars continued their relentless play with a 13-3 run in the last five minutes tying the game at 92-92. In the final seconds, Warmack was able to draw a foul on his lay-up attempt with 3.3 seconds remaining. Warmack sank both free throws giving him nine points on the night, which put the RedStorm ahead for good. With the loss, UC-Clermont falls to 5-11 on the season and marks the tenth time this year it has given up 90 or more points.

“Jermaine made a good play and got some contact. He stepped up like a senior point guard should on that last possession,” head coach Ken French said.

Warmack, however, was not the only one that stepped up for Rio Grande as freshman forward Bilal Young had a career day. Young had incredible team highs in four different categories, which included 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“It was ugly at first but we locked in in the second half,” Young said. “When we come together as a team like we did at the end we’re pretty good.”

Evan Legg also added 13 points of his own while Phillip Hertz, Travis Elliot and Josh Reagan had 14 points apiece.

“Bilal and Evan gave us some good minutes and some good leadership on the floor,” French said. “They made a few big plays for us especially when we needed them.”

The RedStorm shot 48.6 percent from the field but went only 6-21 from 3-point range. Despite poor 3-point shooting, Rio’s bench managed to outscore Cincinnati Clermont 55-9.

While the RedStorm had five players score in double figures, the Cougars were led by Talmadge Bell who had 31 points and went 7-12 from behind the arc. Willie Slusher also contributed 20 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

“The way they shot the ball was almost scary because we were getting hands in their face. No. 21 [Bell] had a heck of a game and hit a few well-contested shots,” junior guard Evan Legg said.

UC-Clermont shot 52.3 percent from the field and even more impressively 44.4 percent from 3-point range.

“[UC-Clermont] played hard and got hot early, so give them a lot of credit,” French said. “The biggest disappointment is that defensively we just weren’t very good at all. We just didn’t guard and played their game. We’re not going to be able to play like that at all for any game left on our schedule so hopefully it’s out of our system.”

This last game for 2013 also marks Rio’s last game against a non-conference foe. From here on out, the RedStorm will take on only teams from the Mid-South Conference starting with an 8 p.m. tipoff against Cumberlands on Jan. 2.