Rare are the nights when major milestones are reached in college basketball.
Two notable accomplishments in the same contest is like a sighting of Haley’s Comet.
With that in mind, Tuesday night at the Newt Oliver Arena turned out to be a stargazer’s paradise.
University of Rio Grande women’s basketball head coach David Smalley picked up the 500th win of his career, while Brooke Marcum became just the third member of the program’s 1,000-rebound club in the RedStorm’s 93-82 win over Asbury University.
Rio Grande improved to 14-8 overall and 6-4 in the River States Conference with the win.
The Eagles slipped to 9-12 overall and 4-6 in league play with the loss.
As a result of the win, Smalley – who is in his 25th season – saw his career record climb to 500-292. He ranks fourth on winningest active coaches’ list for NAIA Division II women’s basketball coaches.
“To be honest, I’m glad to get it out of the way,” said Smalley. “There’s been so many great players and great coaches over the years – you don’t get to this point by just showing up every day by yourself – and I’ve really been blessed to have a lot of good people involved in the program. I thought the real highlight of the night, though, was Brooke getting her 1,000th rebound. She’s in some pretty select company on a coveted list.”
Marcum, a senior from Vinton, Ohio, pulled in her noteworthy carem early in the third quarter to join former Rio standouts Alkia Fountain (1,196) and Karley Mohler (1,110) at the top of the program’s all-time leading rebounders list.
The trio are also the only players in program history with at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Marcum scored her 1,000th point in a win over Brescia University on Jan. 6.
Tuesday’s victory was anything but easy, though, for the RedStorm, in a game which featured seven ties and 12 lead changes.
Asbury, which reached the NAIA DII Sweet 16 last season, led most of the first half and took a four-point lead, 37-33, into the halftime intermission.
The Eagles pushed their lead to as many as six point, 50-44, following a three-point goal by Bailey Brown with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter and still led by five, 55-50, following a conventional three-point play by A.J. Lewis with 2:45 left in the stanza before the RedStorm mounted a game-changing rally.
Rio scored nine of the final 10 points in the period to grab the lead and, although the Eagles tied the game at 60-60 and 62-62, never trailed again.
The RedStorm lead was just 73-70 after a three-pointer by Asbury’s Haley Warren with 3:44 left to play, but Rio sealed the win with a 13-3 run which produced the home team’s largest lead of the night, 86-73, with just over a minute to play.
Senior Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) led four double-digit scorers for Rio and was one of three RedStorm players to record double-double efforts with 20 points and a season-high 11 assists.
Sophomore Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) equaled career-highs with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Marcum had all but two rebounds of her 11-point, 12-rebound outing in the second half.
Rio, which shot 67.7 percent in the second half (21-for-31) and 59.3 percent for the game while also enjoying a 42-31 edge in rebounding, nearly had a fourth player with a double-double as sophomore Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Brittany Warren led Asbury in a losing cause with 21 points, while Shelby McDonald tossed in 20, Lewis netted 14 points and Haley Warren finished with 10. Kali Whiteside added 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Eagles.
Rio Grande returns to action Thursday night, traveling to Indiana University Kokomo. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.