Rio Grande Men’s Basketball Limping Into Conference Tournament

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Rio Grande concluded the regular season on a low note, having lost six consecutive games, but still look to leave its mark in the Mid-South Conference tournament. The fifth seeded RedStorm will travel to Lebanon, Tenn., on Thursday to face No. 4 St. Catharine.

The RedStorm finished in a tie for fifth place in the MSC with Campbellsville after falling 73-66 to Cumberland University on March 1.

In their first matchup in the Newt Oliver Arena back on Jan.16, the unranked RedStorm knocked off No. 14 St. Catharine, 71-68. D.D. Joiner dropped a season-high 23 points while Jermaine Warmack iced the game with a pair of foul shots in the final seconds of the game.

The odds weren’t in Rio Grande’s favor the last time around as the RedStorm fell 78-63 to St. Catharine on Feb. 16. Joiner was the only RedStorm player to reach double-figures, finishing with 17 points.

Omar Skinner scored a game-high 24 points to lead St. Catharine, adding a team-high four steals and three assists in the process. Raymon Austin contributed 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds while William Tolefree added 14 points in the winning effort.

Austin, a 6-foot-8 forward, and Tolefree, a 6-foot-6 forward, have crashed the boards all season for the Patriots and have contributed to St. Catharine being the second best offensive rebounding team in Division I NAIA with 15.9 per game. The Patriots also rank sixth in steals per game with 11.4 and rank eighth in total steals with 309.

Despite Rio’s recent six-game losing skid, the RedStorm are still shooting 75 percent from the free throw stripe, which ranks them second in the nation. The RedStorm struggled down the stretch of the season but showed dominance in the conference when Josh Reagan and Warmack led the RedStorm to a six-game winning streak in January.

St. Catharine is also riding a losing-skid of their own, having lost two consecutive games to Bluefield and Pikeville. If Reagan and Bilal Young can compete with Austin and Tolefree down low and grab key defensive rebounds, the RedStorm should be able to contend with the equally victory hungry St. Catharine Patriots. 

Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CST.