RIO GRANDE, Ohio — To borrow a line from “Wildcats”, the 1986 comedy starring Goldie Hawn, Rio Grande’s meeting with Point Park University on Saturday afternoon was, “U-G-L-Y and it had no alibi.”
Indeed, it was downright ugly.
But despite its lack of picturesque precision, the RedStorm’s 69-55 victory over the Pioneers in River States Conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena wasn’t one that Rio head coach David Smalley was considering giving back.
Smalley’s club survived a season-high 24 turnovers and a cold shooting touch throughout the day (24-for-66 for 36.4%) for its 10th win in 12 tries overall and its second victory in three conference outings.
The 69 points also equaled the RedStorm’s second-lowest scoring output of the season, tying a 69-51 win at Madonna (Mich.) on Nov. 10 and surpassed only by the 63 points scored in a 10-point loss at Indiana University East 19 days later.
Point Park, which shot just 32 percent for the game (21-for-65) while committing 18 turnovers of its own, dropped to 3-9 overall and 1-3 in the RSC.
Rio Grande’s win, apparently, also came at a significantly high cost.
Sophomore guard Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) – the team’s third-leading scorer for the season – went down with a knee injury at the 6:21 mark of the third quarter and had to be carried from the court.
Chambers’ injury came on the heels of Friday’s news that senior forward Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) – the club’s second-leading scorer – likely saw her career end prematurely with a knee injury suffered in practice one week earlier.
Rio Grande jumped to a 7-0 lead to begin the game, but the Pioneers grabbed a 21-20 advantage of their own following a jumper by Sam Weir – who was making her return from a year-long injury hiatus – with 3:50 left in the first half.
But Rio senior Megan Liedtke (Beverly, OH) scored 31 seconds later to start an 8-0 half-closing run and the RedStorm never trailed again.
The lead reached 13 points in the third quarter before settling at eight, 51-43, by the end of the period and the 14-point final margin of victory was Rio’s biggest cushion of the day.
Senior Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH), the RSC’s reigning Player of the Week, narrowly missed a second consecutive double-double performance, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds in the winning effort.
All but seven of Carter’s points came in the second half. She also finished with three steals and two blocked shots.
Junior Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) overcame a slow start to finish with 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots and three steals, while senior Chelsy Slone (Gallipolis, OH) had 12 points – nine of which came in the final quarter.
Liedtke finished with a game-high 10 rebounds for the RedStorm, who outrebounded the Pioneers, 57-36.
Michelle Burns led Point Park with 14 points, five steals and three assists, while Weir tallied 12 points to go along with a team-best nine rebounds and a game-high five blocked shots in her return.
Kaitlyn Smith also 12 points in a losing cause for the Pioneers.
Rio Grande returns to action on Wednesday when it faces Benedictine (Kan.) as part of the Malika Sports Tours “Christmas Hoop ‘N Surf” in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. EST.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.