RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Despite having just nine players in uniform and absorbing, arguably, the best overall performance by Wright State University-Lake thus far this season, the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team had enough firepower to get the job done.
Abby Wendel and Nia McCormick posted career-high efforts offensively to lead four RedStorm players in double figures and fuel a 95-74 win over the Lakers, Monday night, in non-conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 4-1 with the victory in the first all-time meeting between the two programs.
Wright State-Lake, a United States Collegiate Athletic Association school located in Celina, Ohio, enjoyed its highest scoring total of the season but slipped to 0-5 with the loss.
The Lakers nearly equaled their per-game average of 47 points by shooting 60 percent from the field and scoring 43 points in the opening half, but still trailed the RedStorm, 57-43, at the intermission.
A pair of free throws by Kelsey Wertz just five seconds into the third quarter got WSU-L within 12 points, but the Lakers failed to get any closer the rest of the way.
Rio Grande grabbed its biggest lead of the night, 85-63, following a bucket by sophomore Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) with 6:38 left to play and equaled the 22-point advantage twice more before the night was done.
Wendel, a sophomore from Portland, Ind., enjoyed the best offensive showing of her collegiate career by scoring a game-high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists.
McCormick, a freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio, added a career-high 17 points and a game-best five steals for the RedStorm, which played without the services of regular starters Jasmine Smith (coach’s decision) and Jaida Carter (injury), sophomore reserve Kamryn Conaway (injury) and freshman guard Bethany Blanton (illness).
Senior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots in the winning effort, while Holden tossed in 15 points and junior Megan Liedtke (Beverly, OH) yanked down a career- and game-high 12 rebounds.
Nicole Fogt had a team-high 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for Wright State-Lake, which hit just seven of its 24 second half field goal attempts (29.2 percent) after the sizzling start.
Wertz added 12 points in a losing cause, while Onyx Lopez and Allana Hurst finished with 10 points each.
The two teams were whistled for 57 personal fouls combined and attempted 78 free throws — 44 for the Lakers and 34 by the RedStorm.
There were also 47 combined turnovers — 27 for WSU-L and 20 for Rio — in the two-hour-plus contest.
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night in the opening round of the Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament, hosting Ohio University-Lancaster for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Bluefield State College will face Wilberforce University in Friday’s other first round contest at 2 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.