GODFREY, Ill. — A day after cracking the NJCAA top 25 rankings, the Raiders overcame an early deficit and avoided a let down. Three Rivers College led for nearly the entire second half, but never by double digits and held off Lewis & Clark to win 89-84 on Wednesday night. The Raiders opened the second half with a layup by Camron Reedus and a 3 from Gabe Grant to take the lead for good. Always close, Lewis & Clark was within two points with 2 minutes to go. Kavion Pippen polished off a strong second half by finishing an assist from Reedus and Sadaeys Miller added a putback to make it six points with 40 seconds to go. A 3 by Keontae Bridges cut the lead to one possession with 21 seconds left and then Grant turned it over.
After a timeout, Will Sides missed a 3 with 4 seconds to go and Grant blocked the putback try before KaJuan Christon sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 2 seconds left. "It was one of those barn burners that went right to the wire and it could have gone either way. We played pretty well again down late," said Three Rivers coach Gene Bess, now with 1,243 wins over 47 seasons. "They came after us and I'm just glad we were able to retaliate later on in the game. They sure took it at us and were superior to us earlier in the game."
It was the second most points the Raiders (12-1) have allowed this season. "Defensively, we had been told they were really hard to guard. They were good 1-on-1 and they kept beating us," Bess said. "Those guys were pretty good. You make a long trip up there, no fans, and it really tests you character." Three Rivers was down 13-2 in the first few minutes and didn't take its first lead until it took the lead for good at the start of the second half. It was part of a 23-2 run by the Raiders that closed the final 2 minutes of the half and then opened the first 3 of the second half. Grant finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds after going 10 for 10 at the free-throw line. It was his second double-double of the season. Reedus played 37 minutes and led the Raiders in scoring with 25 points. Pippen added 16 on 7 for 10 shooting to go with eight rebounds. "Pippen had a good second half. He caught it and scored in there. That was probably as big a factor as anything," Bess said. The Raiders shot 44 percent from the floor, 2 percent worse than Lewis & Clark (4-5), but went 24 for 28 on free throws as a team for seven extra points. Three Rivers also had eight more offensive rebounds and was plus-9 on second-chance points.