Rio Men’s Basketball Limps Into MSC Tournament With Six Consecutive Losses

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The end of the 2013-14 regular season has not been kind to the Rio Grande RedStorm as they drop their final six games of the season, including Saturday night’s 73-66 road loss to the Cumberland Bulldogs.

The second to last place Bulldogs (14-13, 6-12) defeated the RedStorm (16-13, 9-9) for the second time this season.

On its senior night, Cumberland proved why its scoring defense is the best in the Mid-South Conference. The RedStorm’s 66 points is their second fewest points scored in a single game this season.

Right out of the gate, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 9-0 lead while Rio Grande did not score its first basket until 12:59 left in the first half. Cumberland held the RedStorm to just five points in the game’s first 10 minutes.

The Bulldogs did not relinquish their early lead as Rio Grande trailed by double digits for most of the contest. Rio Grande played without its leading scorer Josh Reagan, who did make the trip due to a two-game suspension he received for his ejection last week against the Pikeville Bears.

Poor shooting plagued the RedStorm, who shot an unimpressive 33 percent from the field while Cumberland connected on over half of its shots and netted 40 percent from behind the arc.

Lester Gude led the Bulldogs in scoring with a game-high 23 points on his senior night at Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.

Gude’s performance was complimented by his senior teammate Lamar Brinkley who recorded the game’s only double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Brinkley’s 14 boards played a huge role in helping the Bulldogs keep Rio off the glass as they out-rebounded the RedStorm, 44-32.

Despite turning the ball over 10 more times than the RedStorm, Gude and Brinkley came up big for the Bulldogs. Although Marquel Hickerson leads the team in points, assists and steals per game, the seniors were able to shine on their final home game of their collegiate career.

The Bulldogs’ effort to make the MSC Tournament fell short despite the win as they trail Lindsey Wilson by just one game in the final standings for the eighth seed in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Rio Grande enters tournament play on March 6 looking for answers amidst a six-game losing streak.

The odds and momentum do not favor the RedStorm heading into the tournament but this team projected to finish ninth in the preseason has proven critics wrong before and may even do so in their last MSC Tournament appearance.