RIO GRANDE, Ohio — They say that all good things must come to an end.
Unfortunately, the sentiment of the oft-used adage includes the perfect start to the 2021-22 season for the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team.
The University of Pikeville used a 12-0 run to erase a seven-point second half deficit and then old down the stretch to post a 79-76 win over the RedStorm, Tuesday afternoon, in non-conference play at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The Bears, who had dropped a pair of narrow decisions in two previous meetings with ranked foes, evened their overall mark at 6-6.
Rio Grande, which entered the game ranked 18th in the latest NAIA coaches’ poll, slipped to 15-1 with the loss.
The RedStorm enjoyed a 64-57 lead with 8:44 left to play after freshman Azyiah Williams (Ripley, OH) capped a 6-0 run to begin the final quarter, but UPike countered with 12 consecutive points over the next 3-1/2 minutes to open up a 69-64 advantage of its own — the Bears largest lead of the contest.
Rio Grande twice cut the deficit to one inside the final 4:30, but never got the lead again.
The second of those two occasions came with 51.5 seconds remaining when a steal and layup by junior Hailey Jordan got the RedStorm within 77-76.
Rio got the ball back after the Bears missed a three-point shot on their ensuing possession and called a timeout with 21 seconds left to setup a potential go-ahead shot.
However, the subsequent inbounds pass by senior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) was stolen and Pikeville’s Mary Englert connected on a pair of free throws with 13.5 seconds left to extend the lead to 79-76.
The RedStorm’s last gasp at forcing overtime ended when a would-be game-tying three-pointer by senior Avery Harper (Seaman, OH) was off the mark and UPike’s Sierra Feltner snared the rebound as time expired.
The dramatic finish capped a back-and-forth game that included 10 ties and five lead changes.
Rio’s biggest lead was eight points, 25-17, after a bucket by Jordan to begin the second quarter, but the Bears rallied and forged a 38-all deadlock at the intermission.
Both teams coughed up chances to take control of the game at the foul line, although Pikeville had twice as many opportunities to do so.
The Bears went 16-for-28 at the charity stripe (57.1%) , while Rio Grande finished 8-for-15 (53.3%).
The RedStorm went 34-for-83 from the floor overall (41%), while going 0-for-10 from three-point range and getting out rebounded 52-44.
Rio also had to play the final 12-1/2 minutes without the services of freshman Kaylee Darnell (Wheelersburg, OH), the team’s third-leading scorer entering the game, who was carried from the floor after suffering an ankle injury while going after a rebound.
Jordan had a team-high 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals in a losing cause, while junior Ella Skeens (Chillicothe, OH) finished with 19 points.
Morgan Stamper led UPike with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Englert had 20 points and Feltner tallied 15. Englert and Feltner added nine rebounds each.
Bailey Frazier also contributed 12 points for the Bears.
Rio Grande will return to action on Dec. 30 when it hosts Miami University-Hamilton for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.