Early in Saturday’s contest it looked like the Patriots would be headed for a fourth consecutive defeat as the RedStorm sprinted to a 16-1 lead. But the home team regrouped in time to forge a 27-27 halftime tie en route to the 73-67 win.
Arthur McMillan sank two free throws to open the second half and the Patriots never trailed again. But it still didn’t come easy as Rio Grande (6-12, 2-7) whittled a 13 point deficit down to three points with 1:54 to play. But Nick Porter, a freshman guard from Owensboro Apollo High School, then drilled a 3-pointer and the RedStorm never was able to get the game back to a single possession.
The Patriots (8-8, 2-6) had a balanced attack with four players in double figures. Arthur McMillan and Will Tolefree each had 14 points while Omar Skinner and Kevin Kornegay had 13 and 12 respectively.
Travis Wilkins, who has led the Patriots in scoring since starting play in December, had just eight points but led the team to a 43-34 rebounding advantage with eight boards while also blocking three shots.
St. Catharine shot 44 percent from the field including 10-23 (43.5 percent) from 3-point range. Rio Grande hit 40 percent overall and was 5-21 (24 percent) from behind the arc. The Patriots were 15-27 (56 percent) at the foul line and the RedStorm was 10-16 (62.5 percent).
The Patriots, now in a tie for eighth in the conference, hit the road for two games this week. Thursday they are at first place Pikeville (17-1, 7-1) and Saturday they visit UVA-Wise (9-5, 4-4).