RIO GRANDE — Shawnee State University forged a 10-point second-half lead and then held on down the stretch to post a 70-64 win over the University of Rio Grande in the men’s division championship game of the 34th annual Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament on Saturday evening at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Bears improved to 5-3 with the victory.
Rio Grande slipped to 2-4 with the loss.
In a see-saw affair which featured seven ties and 10 lead changes, Shawnee State scored 11 of the first 15 points in the second half to take a 47-37 lead following a pair of Jayllen Carter free throws with 12:14 left in the game.
The RedStorm refused to go away quietly, though.
Rio twice shaved the deficit to just one — 59-58 after a bucket by junior Kenny Council with 5:15 left and 65-64 following a three-pointer by senior Corey Cruse with 59 seconds remaining — but failed to get over the hump.
The RedStorm trailed 66-64 when they turned the ball over with 12.2 seconds left and Shawnee’s Tamal Watkins went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the closing moments to set the final score.
Jacob Daniels scored 19 points to lead the Bears, while Watkins and Carter added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Watkins added three assists, Carter had four steals and J. Murrell snared a team-high six rebounds in the victory.
Cruse led Rio with 13 points, while freshmen Greg Wallace and Kaileb Sheets had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Senior Devon Price added six assists and three steals in the loss for the RedStorm.