RIO GRANDE, Ohio — More often than not, season-opening victories include a sense of celebration and excitement.
But for the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team, much of the buzz from Saturday afternoon’s 80-65 triumph over the University of Northwestern Ohio at the Newt Oliver Arena was tempered by a pair of injuries.
Junior guard Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH), Rio’s representative on the preseason All-River States Conference team, had to be helped from the floor with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter after crumpling to the court with an apparent leg injury.
Just under six minutes later, sophomore forward Kamryn Conaway (Lucasville, OH), who’d been slowed in the preseason by shin splints, also went down with a leg injury and had to be helped from the floor.
The extent of their injuries – and their potential availability for Monday night’s game at home against Madonna (Mich.) University – was not immediately available.
As for the game itself, Rio Grande raced to a 14-point first quarter lead, which it extended to as many as 19 points late in the first half and to as much as 24 points, 68-44, following a rebound and stickleback by senior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) with 2:23 remaining in the third period.
The Racers (1-2) got no closer than the RedStorm’s final margin of victory the rest of the way.
UNOH did itself in by hitting just eight of its 26 first half field goal attempts (30.8%) and committing 14 of its game total 23 turnovers before the intermission.
Payne – the lone senior on the Rio roster – led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the RedStorm with 23 points. She also had a game-high eight rebounds.
Junior Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) added 15 points to the winning effort, while sophomore Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) netted 11 – including nine of Rio’s first 11 points in the game – and Carter finished with 10 before her premature exit.
The RedStorm shot 41.3 percent from the field overall (31-for-75) and outrebounded its guests, 44-39.
Emily Patton had a team-best 14 points and equaled Payne’s game-high total of eight rebounds to pace the Racers, while Kierra Billingsley added 13 points and three steals in a losing cause.
Cori Dickson and Jertaya Hall had 10 points each for UNOH.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.