RIO GRANDE, Ohio — It might have been a slow start for the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team, but it certainly wasn’t a slow finish.
The RedStorm closed the first half on a 21-2 run to blow open a close game and fuel an 81-34 rout of Ohio University-Lancaster in the opening round of the Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament, Friday night, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 5-1 with the win and advances to Saturday’s championship game against Wilberforce University, which defeated Bluefield State College, 78-57, in Friday’s other semifinal contest.
OU-Lancaster dropped to 2-3 with the loss.
The Cougars trailed just 16-11 after a jumper in the lane by Renee Mason with 8:00 left in the first half, but Rio reeled off 16 straight points and 21 of the final 23 points in the half to take a 37-13 lead at the intermission.
The RedStorm continued to add to their lead over the final two periods, pushing the advantage to 44 points by the end of the third quarter and to as many as 49 points, 78-29, after a three-pointer by junior Megan Liedtke (Beverly, OH) with 2:35 left in the game.
Liedtke’s trifecta was one of a season-high 12 three-pointers for Rio Grande, which shot 57 percent from the field overall (16-for-28) in the second half.
OU-Lancaster shot just 24.4 percent from the field overall (11-for-45), while going 4-for-20 from three-point range and committing 26 turnovers.
The Cougars were also out rebounded 47-22.
Sophomore Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) led 11 different Rio scorers with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds, while senior Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) had 16 points and junior Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) finished with 11 points.
Arjanna Knul led OU-L in a losing cause with 10 points.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.