Raymon Austin (Cleveland, Ohio) completed a dominating weekend as the Patriots (16-9, 9-6 MSC) knocked off #15 Rio Grande (16-9, 9-5 MSC) 78-63 on Saturday.
After tacking down 28 points with 10 rebounds in Thursday’s contest against Shawnee State, the 6’ 8” junior had yet another career performance in Saturday’s win over the visiting Red Storm. Austin, an Ohio native, was one of three double digit scorers for the Patriots with 19 points along with an astounding 15 boards. Austin made his presence felt late in the first half with the Patriots leading 19-15, slamming home a put back off the glass drawing a Red Storm foul for a chance at a three point play.
Following a 33-24 halftime advantage, the Patriots jumped out to a 12 point advantage early in the second off of an excellent inside effort from Omar Skinner (New Castle, Del.). After missing the first opportunity, Skinner snagged his own rebound, and fought through a downpour of Red Storm defense to score the second chance basket for two of his team high 24. However, despite maintaining a double digit advantage for the majority of the half, the Patriots’ offense sputtered as the Red Storm rallied with a 10-5 run to cut the lead to three with just 2:10 remaining.
With the Patriot offense struggling, Austin stepped in once more snagging two offensive boards and nailing both second chance opportunities to push the Patriot lead back out to seven with just over a minute remaining. The Patriots out rebounded the Red Storm 39-30, but gained most of their advantage on the offensive glass with a 15-6 advantage. William Tolefree (Stone Mountain, Ga.) placed an exclamation point on the victory when he caught an Omar Skinner pass for a rim rocking dunk as the buzzer sounded, sealing the Patriot’s 78-63 victory.
The Patriots’ victory leaves them sitting fourth in the conference making the upcoming contest with Campbellsville ever more important. Currently the Patriots are tied at 9-6 in the conference with the Tigers. However, the Tigers own the tie breaker after defeating the Patriots 67-57 in late January.
The Patriots will tangle with the Tigers Thursday night in Lourdes Hall at 8 PM for a chance at sole possession of the fourth place seed in the conference.