Indiana University-East’s Kyle Pipenger scored 13 of his team-high 17 points after halftime, including his team’s first seven points in the second overtime period, to help the 12th-ranked Red Wolves hold off an upset-minded University of Rio Grande, 78-70, Tuesday night, in River States Conference men’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
IU-East completed a season sweep of Rio Grande and remained unbeaten in six all-time meetings with the RedStorm, improving to 21-7 overall and 12-3 in league play with the victory.
The win also moved the Red Wolves within one-half game of a tie for the division lead with No. 11 WVU-Tech, which dropped a 69-64 decision at Ohio Christian.
Rio Grande, which suffered a 30-point loss at IU-East in December, dropped to 11-16 overall and 6-8 in the RSC with the loss.
Pipenger drilled a three-pointer 33 seconds into the second extra session, before adding subsequent buckets with 2:36 and 1:24 remaining. Teammate Jacoby Claypool’s conventional three-point play with 1:07 left capped off the Red Wolves’ 10-0 run and sealed the victory in a game which featured seven ties and 10 lead changes.
Pipenger also hit a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds left in the first overtime period to knot the score at 66-66, while a would-be game-winning three-pointer by Rio junior Will Hill (Worthington, Ohio) bounced off the rim as time expired.
Hill did connect from distance at the close of regulation, hitting a 30-foot jumper with seven-tenths of a second remaining to tie the game at 59-59.
The long-range trifecta capped an 11-2 run by Rio Grande over the final 2-1/2 minutes after IU-East had opened up a nine-point advantage, 57-48, following a basket by Jaylen McKay with 2:56 left.
McKay’s bucket culminated a 19-5 run by the Red Wolves after Rio had methodically turned a six-point first half deficit and a one-point IU-East halftime lead into a 43-38 lead of its own after the second of consecutive three-pointers by freshman Kaileb Sheets (Pomeroy, OH) with 10:33 remaining in regulation.
In addition to Pipenger’s 17-point outing, the Red Wolves also got 15 points and four assists from Claypool, 12 points and nine rebounds from McKay and 10 points from Jordan Furlow.
Aaron Thomas also nine rebounds for IU-East to go along with a game-high four steals and three blocked shots.
Hill finished with a game-high 21 points and a team-high three steals in a losing cause for Rio Grande, while freshman Stanley Christian (Norfolk, VA) added 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and senior Corey Cruse (Fort Mitchell, KY) also had 11 points.
The RedStorm outshot the Red Wolves from the floor (45.8%-39.5%), but hit just eight of 17 free throw attempts (47.1%), were outrebounded, 45-41, and committed 20 turnovers.
IU-East, which came into the game ranked No. 1 nationally in three-point shooting percentage, finished just 4-for-15 (26.7%) from beyond the arc.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday at Ohio Christian University. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Maxwell Center in Circleville, Ohio.