RIO GRANDE — No. 5 Mount Vernon Nazarene University (15-2, 3-2) men’s basketball used a late surge to push past Rio Grande (7-9) Saturday, 68-62.
The Cougars previously defeated the Red Storm at Ariel Arena Nov. 6, 85-56, in a game in which they connected on 12 threes. The Red Storm showed more fight in the second meeting, as it took a 36-31 lead into the break.
Rio Grande led by as many as seven in the second half, but the Cougars soon regained the lead. A Brett Vipperman bucket put MVNU up 57-56 with 7:45 remaining in the contest, and the Cougars would not relinquish their lead from that point on.
MVNU shot the ball at a high percentage, knocking down 52.7 percent (29-55) of its shots from the field. The Cougars defended the three ball well, holding the Red Storm to just 27.3 percent (3-11). Along with great defense on the perimeter, the Cougars nabbed nine steals to go along with five blocks.
The Cougars were balanced on the offensive end, as four Cougars reached double figures in scoring. Austin Jones had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Vipperman posted 12 points (6 of 7 FG), seven assists and four boards. Isaac White was 3 of 6 on 3-pointers for 11 points, and also dished out five assists. Jevon Knox collected 10 points and two rebounds.
MVNU (15-2, 3-2) will travel to Grace College (10-6, 1-4) Saturday. Tip off is set for 3 p.m.