Rio Grande Sports Information
KOKOMO, Ind. - The University of Rio Grande showed its ability to rally from an early double-digit deficit in Thursday night's meeting with Indiana University-Kokomo.
Turning the trick again in the second half, though, proved to be a bit too much.
Deja Felder had a game-high 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lead the Cougars past the RedStorm, 88-74, in River States Conference women's basketball action at Cougar Gymnasium.
IU-K, the current leader in the RSC's West Division, improved to 15-8 overall and 8-3 in league play as a result of the victory.
Rio Grande, which suffered its first loss to the Cougars in four all-time meetings, slipped to 14-9 overall and 6-5 in the RSC.
The loss dealt a blow to the RedStorm's hopes of reaching the league's post-season tournament. Rio began play as part of a four-way tie for second place in the RSC East, with the top four teams in the division advancing to the tourney in late February.
Felder, who began the night averaging just over 14 points per game, was one of five Kokomo players to finish in double figures.
Whitney Williamson scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half, while Abby Scott had 14 points and the duo of Mackenzie Johnson and Dejianna Butler netted 10 each.
The Cougars raced to a 15-5 lead just five minutes into the game, but Rio stormed back to take a five-point lead of its own, 33-28, after a three-pointer by freshman Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) with 4:51 remaining in the opening half.
IU-K responded by scoring seven straight points to regain the lead and never trailed again.
An 8-2 spurt by Rio to begin the second half erased the Cougars' six-point halftime lead, but Williamson hit a pair of free throws with 7:15 left in third quarter to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish.
Rio sliced a 10-point deficit late in the third period down to five, 77-72, following a three-pointer by senior Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) with 4:06 remaining in the game, but managed just two points the rest of the way.
Holden scored a career-high 18 points, while also pulling down a team-high five rebounds and collecting five steals in the loss for Rio.
Sophomore Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) had 15 points and senior Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) finished with 10 for the RedStorm. Baines, who had a team-high five assists for Rio, finished with eight points and is now eight points shy of 1,000 for her career.
Kokomo outshot the RedStorm (50.9%-41.7%) and outrebounded it guests (35-31) to offset 22 turnovers. Rio finished with 20 turnovers of its own.
The RedStorm returns to action on Saturday, traveling to Cincinnati Christian for a 1 p.m. tipoff.