FILE - In this Decmeber 1952 file photo, Rio Grande College basketball player Clarence "Bevo" Francis poses for a photo in Columbus, Ohio. Francis, who set college basketball records for high scoring in the 1950s, has died at 82. (AP Photo, File)
AP Photo
June 04, 2015

RIO GRANDE, Ohio (AP) Clarence ''Bevo'' Francis, who had 113 points for Rio Grande College in a 1954 game and was one of college basketball's great scorers, has died. He was 82.

He died Wednesday at his southern Ohio home, Roberts Funeral Home said. Rio Grande said he died after a long illness.

Francis' landmark game came against Michigan's Hillsdale College on Feb. 2, 1954 and put his small Ohio college on the map. The school in southeastern Ohio is now called University of Rio (pronounced RYE'-oh) Grande and had less than 100 students at the time.

''Bevo's legacy, at least in part, is that dedication, determination, and heart can change the world,'' Michelle Johnston, the university president, said on the school's website. She added that Francis' exploits ''charted a course for our institution that led us out of a sea of challenges toward a positive future.''

A year earlier, the 6-foot-9 center scored 116 points against Kentucky's Ashland Junior College, a record that was retroactively erased after the NCAA said it would recognize only games played against four-year, degree-granting institutions.

His 113 points set a record that was broken in 2012 by Grinnell's Jack Taylor, who had 138 against Faith Baptist Bible.

''Bevo was a great individual scorer, but he never failed to say that he couldn't have scored a point if it weren't for the fact that he had great teammates,'' athletic director Jeff Lanham said. ''He was always concerned about how Rio was doing and was a fantastic supporter for 60-plus years.''

During the 1952-53 season, he led his school to a 39-0 record. In 1954, Francis averaged 48.0 points a game. Francis played two seasons at Rio Grande, finishing with 3,272 points and powering the team to a 60-7 record. He scored 50 or more points 14 times in his 39 games against four-year colleges, the school said.

He was part of a barnstorming team after college and was later drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA but chose not to play. The school said he spent his final playing years in the Eastern League before returning home in 1962 to work in a steel mill. Francis entered the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2012.

''Bevo was active within our program over the years and always went out of his way to support or provide anything that was needed,'' Rio Grande basketball coach Ken French said. ''Bevo meant much more to us than being college basketball's most prolific scorer.''

Francis, who was born in Hammondsville, Ohio, is survived his wife, Jean; son Frank; and daughter Marge.

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