RIO GRANDE – While it may have been a cold January night outside of the Newt Oliver Arena, you couldn’t blame the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team for feeling as if it were enjoying the highs and lows of a summertime roller-coaster ride on the inside.
The RedStorm built a 17-point second quarter lead, coughed it up and then rallied for an even bigger second half advantage in an 83-67 non-conference win over Salem (W.Va.) International University on Wednesday night.
Rio Grande, which won for a fourth straight time, improved to 10-6 with the victory – its second in as many tries against the Tigers this season.
SIU, an NCAA Division II school, dropped to 2-15 with the loss.
Rio methodically built a 13-point cushion late in the opening stanza and appeared on its way to a blowout win after extending its advantage to 17 points, 36-19, on a bucket by freshman Kamryn Conaway (Lucasville, OH) with 7:48 left before halftime.
But the Tigers roared to life by closing the half on a 23-5 run – including a stretch of 14 consecutive points – to take a 42-41 lead at the intermission.
SIU also got the first points of the second half on a pair of free throws by Keishla Gilmore just 19 seconds into the third quarter, but the RedStorm responded with a 27-2 run over the next eight minutes to grab their largest lead of the night, 68-46, following a jumper by Conaway with 1:05 left in the period.
The Tigers got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Sophomore Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) led five Rio Grande players in double figures with 19 points, while junior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) added 16 points and senior Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) finished with 13 points, a game-high 10 assists and game-best five steals.
The RedStorm, which went 17-for-30 (56.7%) from the field in both halves, also got 10 points each from Conaway and sophomore Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) and senior Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) snared a game-high seven rebounds.
Gilmore had a game-high 21 points to go along with a team-high seven assists, five rebounds and four steals for Salem International. Quamilla Jackson added 11 points in a losing cause, all of which came in the opening half.
The Tigers, who shot just over 53 percent from the field in the opening half, connected on just eight of their 24 second half shots (33.3%) and finished just 12-for-21 at the free throw line.
Rio Grande returns to action Friday afternoon when Brescia University visits for a River States Conference matchup. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.