RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Shardai Morrison-Fountain scored nine of her 24 points in overtime and nailed a pair of free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining to seal the University of Rio Grande’s 84-79 overtime victory over West Virginia University Tech, Saturday afternoon, in non-conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 6-13 overall and snapped a five-game losing slide with the win.
WVU Tech saw its two-game win streak ended, falling to 9-10 with the loss. The Golden Bears also slipped to 3-12 all-time against Rio Grande.
Morrison-Fountain, a senior guard, connected on her victory-clinching free throws after Tech’s Amber Tully misfired on a would-be, game-tying three-pointer from the right corner with six seconds left in the extra session.
The heart-stopping finish capped an afternoon that saw 10 ties and 19 lead changes.
The RedStorm jumped to a 19-10 lead with 9:30 left in the opening half, but the Golden Bears reeled off 10 straight points of their own over the next 2:30 minutes and the back-and-forth affair was on.
WVU Tech led by as many as six points late in the half before settling for a 32-31 lead at the intermission.
The Golden Bears’ advantage grew to as many as nine points, 44-35, after a layup by Mashya White with 14:16 remaining in the game, but Rio Grande responded with a 12-0 run to take a 47-44 edge after a runner in the lane by junior guard Kate Hammond with 9:14 left.
However, Tech tied the game with a three-pointer by Tully on its ensuing possession - the first of six ties and two lead changes in the final nine minutes.
Rio led 55-51 after a jumper by freshman guard Nichole Mabry with 5:20 left, but the Golden Bears scored seven of the next eight points to go back in front, 58-56, after Nia Nolan hit one of two free throws with 2:27 remaining.
The RedStorm rebounded, though, to score eight of the next 10 points and held a 64-60 advantage after Mabry hit one of two free throws with 28.4 seconds left, but Tech got a pair of free throws from Cheyenne Lusk with 18.8 seconds left and two free throws by Dee Hawkins with 14.2 seconds remaining to knot the score at 64.
Both teams had chances to win the final seconds of regulation, but Rio Grande turned the ball over with 4.0 seconds left and the Golden Bears had to settle for a three-quarter-court heave that fell short after a bad pass on the ensuing inbounds play.
Tech led 67-66 following a layup by Courtney Sturdivant with 4:03 remaining in the overtime, but Rio Grande tied it when sophomore forward Tinesha Taylor hit one of two free throws with 3:51 left and went in front to stay, 71-69, on a bucket by Hammond with 3:14 remaining.
In addition to Morrison-Fountain’s 24-point effort, the RedStorm also got a game-high 25 points and four steals from Hammond, while Taylor added 12 points off the bench.
Freshman forward Sarah Bonar also pulled down 11 rebounds and Mabry handed out five assists for Rio.
White equaled Hammond for game-high scoring honors, netting a career-high 25 points for Tech in her first start of the season. Sturdivant added 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Tully finished with 11 points.
Rio Grande returns to action on Thursday night when 25th-ranked St. Catharine College pays a visit to the Newt for a 6 p.m. tipoff.