RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Visiting St. Catharine College used a 10-2 run to erase a six-point second half deficit and the Patriots continued to pull away down the stretch for an 88-77 win over the University of Rio Grande, Thursday night, in Mid-South Conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
St. Catharine, which received votes in the latest NAIA coaches’ Top 25, improved to 13-5 overall and 7-4 in the MSC in completing a regular season sweep of the RedStorm.
Rio Grande slipped to 6-14 overall and 0-11 in league play with the loss - just its second in six games this season when leading at halftime.
Head coach David Smalley’s club led by as many as six points late in the first half before settling for a 41-38 advantage at the intermission.
The RedStorm’s lead grew back to six points, 48-42, following a conventional three-point play by sophomore forward Tinesha Taylor with 17:23 remaining in the game, but that’s when St. Catharine began its rally.
A jumper by Alexiss Griffin capped a 10-2 run which put the Patriots in front, 52-50, with 14:26 left to play and, after a free throw by Rio junior guard Kate Hammond got the RedStorm within 54-51 just over a minute later, St. Catharine reeled off a 13-1 run to open up a 15-point advantage, 67-52, with 10:29 remaining.
Rio Grande got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 18 points twice in the final 1:37.
Janae Howard led St. Catharine with a game-high 30 points. She also had 10 rebounds, five blocked shots, four assists and three steals.
Heather Sandlin, who averaged just over six points per game entering the contest, added 18 points of her own and Reilly Poirier finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots, who shot 52.8 percent from the field (19-for-36) in the second half.
Rio Grande was led by senior guard Shardai Morrison-Fountain, who finished with 26 points, seven steals and four assists.
Hammond added 13 points in a losing cause, while Taylor tossed in 12 points and freshman forward Sarah Bonar pulled down 11 rebounds.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday afternoon when 13th-ranked Georgetown College visits for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
The Tigers, who pounded No. 19 Shawnee State 85-58 on Thursday night, routed the RedStorm, 98-59, on Jan. 10 in Georgetown.