Rio Grande Sports Information
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio - In a roller-coaster kind of season chock full of peaks and valleys, the University of Rio Grande women's basketball team picked the most inopportune time to endure its lowest of lows.
The RedStorm coughed up a 13-point third quarter lead as Ohio Christian University rallied for a 74-67 win, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference action at the Maxwell Center.
The win, OCU's first in six all-time meetings with Rio, gave the Trailblazers (20-8 overall, 11-5 RSC) the first 20-win season in program history and also secured at least a home game in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming conference tournament.
Rio Grande slipped to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in league play with the loss, while also seeing its hopes of playing at home in the RSC tournament dashed.
The loss also puts the RedStorm's hopes of making the tourney in jeopardy. Rio is now part of a three-way tie for third place in the East Division - Point Park and WVU-Tech are also 8-7 in league play - with only two of three teams moving on.
The RedStorm will close out the regular season next weekend with a pair of home contests, including a huge matchup with Point Park - which defeated Rio in their previous meeting back in December - on Friday night at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Head coach David Smalley's club appeared well on its way to taking care of business on Saturday, jumping to a 10-point first quarter and twice extending the cushion to 13 points in the second period before settling for an 11-point edge at the intermission.
Rio maintained the lead despite 16 first half turnovers, thanks in part to a whopping 29-13 rebounding advantage and OCU's 5-for-36 (13.9%) overall shooting performance over the first 20 minutes.
The RedStorm lead went back to 13 points, 35-22, just 12 seconds into the third quarter following a bucket by senior Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH), but that's when the Trailblazers went to work on their methodical comeback effort.
OCU eventually forged a 44-44 tie thanks to a three-pointer by Shawntell Parsons with 3:32 remaining in the period and grabbed its first lead since scoring the game's first two points when a jumper by Deshay Thomas just over a minute later made it 46-45.
The Trailblazers led 53-51 at the close of the third and Rio got no closer the rest of the way, as the hosts twice pushed the lead to as many as 11 points in the final stanza.
Ohio Christian shot 57.7 percent in the second half (15-for-26), while also out rebounding the RedStorm 17-10 after halftime.
OCU - which played just seven players - also outscored Rio, 27-13, at the free throw line in the game and committed just 11 turnovers to the RedStorm's game total of 24.
Erinn Bailey led a quintet of double-digit scorers for the home team with 17 points - 13 of which came at the foul line. She also had a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with five steals.
Bre Hearn finished with 15 points, a game-high six steals and a game-high four assists, while Thomas and Parsons netted 13 points each and Paige Lewis tossed in 10 points.
Marcum led Rio Grande in scoring with 14 points, while sophomore Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) tallied 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals in a losing cause.