RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Miami-Middletown freshman guard Lisa Weber poured in a career-high 24 to lead five players in double figures and the Thunderhawks held on in the closing minutes to post a 93-90 upset of the University Rio Grande, Friday night, in the women’s bracket of the 30th Annual Bevo Francis Tournament at the Newt Oliver Arena.
With the win, Middletown advances to Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game against West Virginia University Tech, which defeated Wilberforce University, 81-74, earlier on Friday.
Rio Grande, which dropped to 1-1 with the loss, will meet Wilberforce in Saturday’s consolation game, with tipoff scheduled for 3 p.m.
Middletown, which was blizted by Mid-South Conference members Campbellsville and Lindsey Wilson in its first two games of the season, shot 57.4 percent for the game (31-for-54).
The Thunderhawks shot a sizzling 66.7 percent in the first half (16-for-24) en route to a 48-36 halftime lead.
Rio Grande watched the deficit reach as many as 14 points before pulling to within 64-60 on a three-pointer by senior guard Sharadi Morrison-Fountain with 13:12 left in the game.
Middletown built its lead back to 13 points, 76-63, after a jumper by Kristen Washington with 9:32 remaining, but Rio proceeded to embark on a 15-0 run over the next three minutes and took a 78-76 lead on a short jumper by freshman forward Sarah Bonar with 6:20 left to play.
It was the RedStorm’s first lead since holding a 15-13 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play in the opening half.
The Thunderhawks tied the game on their ensuing possession, setting the stage for a frantic final six minutes which saw three ties and five lead changes.
Morrison-Fountain hit a pair of free throws with 20.3 seconds left to give the RedStorm a 90-89 lead, but Weber hit two free throws of her own with 11.6 seconds left to send Middletown back in front.
Rio Grande had a chance to win the game on its ensuing possession, but a would-be game-winning layup by Morrison-Fountain with three seconds left rattled.
Weber, who connected on 15 of 18 free throw attempts in the game and who scored nine of her 11 second half points at the charity stripe, set the final score with a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds left.
Brianne Thornton had 18 points and six rebounds in the winning effort, while Megan Costa and Washington added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Thunderhawks.
Middletown, which finished 27-for-36 at the free throw line as a team, also got 10 points from Ashley Heard.
Morrison-Fountain had 25 points and four assists, while Bonar netted 20 to lead a quartet of double-digit scorers for Rio Grande. Sophomore guard Noelani Woodson had 15 points - all via three-point goals - and junior guard Kate Hammond finished with 10 points in the loss.
The RedStorm hit 35 of their 80 shots overall (43.8 percent), but went just 8-for-31 from three-point range and hit only 12 of their 19 free throw attempts.