RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Everybody knows that nothing lasts forever.
You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find anyone who thought that the University of Rio Grande’s 22-game winning streak would end like the fabled airship “The Hindenberg” falling in flames out of a New Jersey sky.
But that’s exactly how the RedStorm’s program-record string of victories came to a close.
West Virginia University-Tech used a 23-2 run which covered the final 6-1/2 minutes of the first quarter and the first 2:05 of the second period to open up an 18-point first half lead and the Golden Bears cruised to a 76-58 win over the RedStorm, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Tech, which handed Rio a home loss for the second straight year, improved to 15-11 overall and 9-4 in the RSC with the victory.
The Golden Bears also avenged a 17-point loss to the RedStorm last month.
Rio Grande, which lost for the first time since 97-85 setback against Bryan (Tenn.) College on Nov. 10, dropped to 24-2 overall and 12-1 in the RSC East Division.
The 58 points represented the lowest point total for the RedStorm since a 79-57 loss at Asbury University on Feb. 9, 2016.
Rio shot a season-low 31.7 percent from the floor (19-for-60), including just 25.8 percent in the second half (8-for-31), and tied a season-high with 23 turnovers.
The RedStorm was also out rebounded 43-33 – the first time they had a deficit of 10 or more in that category since getting out rebounded 37-27 in the loss to Bryan.
Rio led 9-6 after a jumper by junior Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) with 6:30 left in the opening period, but managed just two points over the next 8-1/2 minutes as Tech opened up a 29-11 lead following a layup by Zjhane West with 7:55 remaining in the first half.
The RedStorm closed the gap to seven points twice in the second half, but got no closer the rest of the way.
The second of those two occasions came at 53-46 following a bucket by Carter just 16 seconds into the final stanza, but the Golden Bears responded with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to regain a 15-point cushion and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Tech’s largest lead of the game was 22 points, 74-52, after a basket by Laura Requena with 3:05 left in the contest.
The Golden Bears – who played without the services of their leading scorer, junior guard Savannah Shamblin (12.1 ppg) – used their rebounding advantage and strong shooting (50.8%) to survive 27 turnovers.
Whittney Justice had 15 points and three steals off the bench to lead five double-digit scorers for Tech. Requena had 14 points – and a game-high 13 rebounds – while Logan Dudley had 11 points and the duo of Katelyn Byrd and Alexandria Gray finished with 10 points each.
Gray and Alexandra Combs both four assists and three steals, while Combs and West both blocked a pair of shots.
Sophomore Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) led Rio Grande with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists, while senior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) had 10 points and freshman Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) had a game-best six steals.
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday night, traveling to Richmond, Indiana to face Indiana University East.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
The Red Wolves trail the RedStorm in the RSC East by two games with four regular season games left to play.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.
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