Rio Grande Sports Information
SALEM, W.Va. - A win that looked to be nothing more than an afterthought turned out to be anything but.
The University of Rio Grande built a 26-point lead late in the first half, but was forced to withstand a major second half rally by host Salem International University in an eventual 106-91 triumph over the Tigers, Wednesday night, in non-conference women's basketball action at the T. Edward Davis Gymnaisum.
The RedStorm, who were playing their final non-conference game of the season, improved to 16-9 with the victory and completed a three-game season sweep of the Tigers in the process.
Salem International (2-19) lost for the sixth straight time, despite recording its highest scoring output of the season - nearly double its 50.5 points per game average.
A lopsided victory appeared to be in the offing after a bucket by sophomore Chelsy Slone (Gallipolis, OH) gave Rio a 50-24 advantage with 1:36 remaining in the first half, but the Tigers began a methodical comeback which saw the deficit cut to a scant three points, 72-69, after Christy Gonzalez hit one of two free throw attempts with 8:07 left in the game.
SIU fueled its comeback with a surprising barrage of three-point goals.
The Tigers, who entered play shooting just 26.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc and averaging just over five trifectas per outing, hit 12 of their 30 attempts (40.0%) from distance - including a 9-for-17 showing after halftime.
Rio Grande responded with eight consecutive points to regain control and led by no less than nine points over the final 5-1/2 minutes, maintaining its cushion down the stretch with a nearly flawless effort from the free throw line.
The RedStorm went 15-for-16 at the charity stripe in the final stanza - including a 10-for-10 performance by senior Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) - and finished the game 32-for-36 from the free throw line.
Rio Grande, which had five players finish n double figures, also went 10-for-17 (58.8%) from the floor in the final period en route to a 36-point quarter.
Baines paced the quintet with 23 points, while sophomore Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) netted 17 points and senior Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) tossed in 16 to go along with a game-high eight rebounds and a team-best four assists.
Junior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) contributed 15 points off the bench in just 10 minutes of action, while freshman Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) had 11 of her 13 points in the first half.
Keishla Gilmore poured in a game-high 32 points to lead SIU, 25 of which came during the second half comeback attempt. She also handed out a game-high seven assists.
Safiya Hernandez tallied 15 points for the Tigers in a losing cause - all from three-point range - and also had a team-high five rebounds. Jihana Flood-Francis (13 pts.) and Franchessca Gill (10 pts.) rounded out SIU's quartet of double-digit scorers.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday afternoon, traveling to West Virginia University-Tech for a key River States Conference contest. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Baisi Athletic Center in Montgomery, W.Va.