Rio Grande Sports Information
RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Alexis Payne poured in a season-high 24 points, surpassing the 1,000-point mark for her career in the process, as the University of Rio Grande defeated Point Park University, 92-78, in the River States Conference Women's Basketball Game of the Week, Friday night, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande, which snapped a two-game losing slide, improved to 18-11 overall and 9-7 in conference play with the win.
The RedStorm also secured a berth in next week's RSC Tournament as a result of the victory. Head coach David Smalley's squad won't know its seed - or its first round opponent - until after Saturday's regular season finale against Carlow University.
Point Park, which entered the game tied with Rio Grande and West Virginia University-Tech for third place in the RSC East Division, slipped to 18-11 overall and 8-8 with the loss.
The injury-riddled Pioneers still can earn a post-season bid of their own, though, with a win at WVU-Tech in Saturday's regular season wrapup.
Payne, a junior forward from Deep Water, W.Va., was one of six players to reach double figures for Rio. She finished 10-for-18 from the floor and was 4-for-6 at the free throw line, with her milestone bucket coming on a behind-the-head layup with 7:04 left in the contest.
Payne became the third RedStorm player - seniors Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) and Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) were the others - to eclipse the 1,000-point career mark this season.
Rio also got 14 points and a career-best 10 rebounds from freshman Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH); 14 points and a game-high six assists from sophomore Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH); 12 points from Baines; 10 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and a team-high four steals from Marcum; and 10 points from freshman Kamryn Conaway (Lucasville, OH) in the victory.
The RedStorm trailed throughout the entire opening quarter before using a 12-0 second quarter run to turn a one-point deficit into an 11-point advantage.
Rio settled for a seven-point halftime cushion - which Point Park whittled down to two, 43-41, after a pair of free throws by Bailey Mook with 7:43 left in the third quarter - before parlaying another 11-3 run over the next two minutes to regain a double-digit lead, 54-44, after a bucket by Payne with 5:52 left in the period.
Rio Grande's largest lead was 15 points, 67-52, following another jumper in the lane by Payne with 9:28 remaining in the contest.
Point Park, which lost junior guard Maryssa Agurs (11.0 ppg) to a broken thumb in practice on Wednesday after junior Sam Weir (14.8 ppg) and senior Carly Forse (10.5 ppg) succumbed to injuries earlier in the season, sliced the deficit down to five, 76-71, after a jumper by Kaitlyn Smith with 4:20 left in the game, but could get no closer.
The RedStorm sealed the win by going 10-for-12 at the free throw line in the final 1:31.
Rio Grande survived 19 turnovers by outshooting the Pioneers (43.8%-37.2%) and outrebounding its guests by a whopping 60-38 advantage.
Point Park was led by Ja'Nia McPhatter with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Devon Larkin had 14 points. Smith and Shaniya Rivers finished with 10 points each and Rivers also had five steals.
PPU's game at WVU-Tech on Saturday is set for a 1 p.m. tip, while Rio Grande hosts Carlow at 2 p.m.