RIO GRANDE, Ohio — While its leading scorer and rebounder sat on the bench, reduced to the role of an observer, the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball didn’t miss a beat.
Sydney Holden and Chyna Chambers scored 15 points apiece to lead a quartet of double-digit scorers for the RedStorm, who led from start to finish in a 68-54 triumph over Wilberforce University in the 16th Annual Newt Oliver Coaches’ Classic, Saturday afternoon, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 11-1 with its nine straight win, which came with senior forward Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) watching from the bench nursing a leg injury.
Wilberforce, which closed out a month-long, nine-game road swing, dropped to 6-8 with the loss.
The Bulldogs, who also lost to the RedStorm in the championship game of the Bevo Francis Tournament last month, were without the services of their top two scorers – Brittany Wells (19.6 ppg) and Jamee Denman (14.6 ppg) – as well.
Wells is expected back when her team resumes its schedule after a holiday break, while Denman will miss the remainder of the year.
Rio Grande clearly had a much easier time surviving the absence of its sidelined standout, outscoring Wilberforce in each of the game’s first three quarters and leading from start to finish.
Holden, a sophomore from Wheelersburg, Ohio, added a team-high eight rebounds and three assists to her 15 points in the winning effort.
Chambers, a freshman from Columbus, Ohio, established a new career-high with her 15 points and also handed out a game-high four assists.
The RedStorm also got 10 points each from junior Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) and sophomore Abby Wendel (Portland, IN).
Rio stretched a three-point lead after the opening quarter to eight by halftime and then blew things opening by outscoring the Bulldogs, 19-4, in the third period.
The lead grew to as many as 28 points, 65-37, following a bucket by junior Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) with 5:50 left in the game, before Wilberforce made things much more respectable by scoring 17 of the game’s final 20 points.
Keanna Briscoe had 12 points and five assists to lead the Bulldogs in a losing cause, while Amali Smith finished with 11 points and four steals.
Alexandra Shealey, WU’s third-leading scorer at 13.0 ppg, hit just one of her 13 field goal attempts and was limited to just six points. She did equal Briscoe’s total of five assists and had a game-high nine rebounds.
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday night when 13th-ranked Indiana University East visits for a key River States Conference East Division matchup.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.