KINGSPORT, Tenn. — It’s becoming a trend that University of Rio Grande women’s basketball coach David Smalley is quickly tiring of.
That trend has seen the RedStorm face a double-digit deficit, then erase that deficit with a furious comeback effort only to fall short in the end.
Unfortunately, it happened again on Sunday afternoon against the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the final round of the 2019 NAIA DII Showcase.
The Wolverines coughed up an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, but got a go-ahead three-point goal by Lauryn Carroll with 3.7 seconds remaining to outlast Rio Grande, 78-75, at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Center and Resort.
UMD, which picked up its second win in as many days against an opponent from the River States Conference, upped its record to 7-4.
The RedStorm slipped to 5-6 with a fifth straight loss – all of which have come by a total of 38 points.
Dearborn grabbed a six-point lead at the close of the first quarter, stretched its cushion to eight points by halftime and extended the advantage to 18 points, 56-38, after a three-point goal by Maddy Welch with 5:07 left in the third period.
But Rio then roared to life, closing the gap to four points, 57-53, after an offensive rebound and stickback by freshman Kaylie Apperson (McConnelsville, OH) with 40 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The comeback came full circle when sophomore Avery Harper (Seaman, OH) connected on a pair of free throws with 4:46 left to play to give the RedStorm a 70-69 lead – Rio’s first advantage since a 7-4 lead just over four minutes into the game.
Three ties and a trio of lead changes followed.
Rio’s last lead came at 73-72 when freshman Samaria Rodgers-Gossett (Columbus, OH) hit one of two free throws with 1:02 left to play.
She was also responsible for the game’s eighth – and final – deadlock when her layup with 28.7 seconds left made it 75-all.
UMD elected to play for the win and Carroll drilled a trifecta from the right wing with 3.7 seconds remaining to give the Wolverines the lead.
The RedStorm called their final timeout to set up a potential game-tying three-point goal of their own, but freshman Reagan Willingham’s (Ashville, OH) heave from the right corner was off the mark and the Wolverines grabbed the rebound as time expired.
Ro’Zhane Wells led a quartet of double-digit scorers for UMD with 22 points. She also had a game-high five assists.
Carroll finished with 16 points in the winning effort, while Maricela Macias had 13 points, Mariah Taylor netted 12 and Rachel Bause finished with five of the Wolverines’ 10 blocked shots.
Harper finished with a career-high 24 points and 21 rebounds in a losing cause for Rio Grande.
Senior Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) added 14 points and nine rebounds for the RedStorm, despite fouling out with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Rio Grande shot just 28 percent in the first half (11-for-39) and committed 28 turnovers in the game.
The RedStorm will return to action on Saturday in their River States Conference opener against Ohio Christian University.
Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m. at the Maxwell Center in Circleville.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.