RIO GRANDE, OH - Ohio Christian University snapped a four game losing skid with a historic 78-70 victory over NAIA Division I, University of Rio Grande. The Trailblazers left Newt Oliver Arena with a victory over the RedStorm for the first time ever in their seven-games against each other, dating back to the early 1980's.
Ohio Christian jumped out to an early 16-11 lead with 12:45 remaining in the first half after a 3-pointer by Russell. Rio quickly answered and tied the game at 18 after a shot from behind the arc by Ricky Tisdale. The Trailblazers left the court for halftime with a 39-32 lead over the RedStorm.
Ohio Christian opened the second half on an 8-2 scoring run to take a 47-34 lead with 17:09 remaining in the game. Rio Grande's first field goal of the second half didn't come until freshman forward Jalen Harris canned a jumper at the 13:31 mark and OCU went on to build an 18-point lead, 55-37, after a layup by Ernie McCoy with 12:26 left. That lead would be the largest lead of the game for OCU.
The RedStorm fought back and cut the deficit to 10 with 6:23 remaining in the game as Ohio Christian continued to lead 58-48. Rio then got even closer as they cut the deficit down to six points with 2:25 remaining in the game, with OCU in front 65-59.
Ohio Christian responded with a pair of late transition baskets by Wesley Russell and Evan Mills to push the lead back to double digits. OCU was forced to earn their points from the charity stripe late in the game but the Trailblazers cashed in at the free throw line. Russell went 6 of 6 from the line in final 1:15 of play and the Blazers were able to close the door on the RedStorm, winning 78-70.
The OCU defense held Rio to 32.9 percent shooting for the game (23-for-70), including a 3-for-18 showing from the three-point line. Ohio Christian survived 20 turnovers by shooting 48 percent from the floor (27-for-56) and outrebounding Rio, 46-37. OCU outscored Rio 26-5 over a 9 minute period, starting at 4:30 remaining in the first half to the 15:30 mark of second half.
Four Ohio Christian players scored in double digits on Tuesday afternoon. Russell's 20 led the Trailblazers and he added a game-high 13 rebounds. Evan Mills added 15 points followed by Evin Bartlett who tallied 13. Danny Schrock added 11 points in the win.
The Blazers are back in action this Friday as they take on Walsh University in Canton on Friday night. The game is set to tip at 7:00PM.