RIO GRANDE, Ohio — After a trio of comfortable wins to begin the season, University of Rio Grande women’s basketball head coach David Smalley was anxious to see how his team would react to adversity.
Tuesday night’s meeting the University of Pikeville provided Smalley with a few of the answers he’d been seeking.
The RedStorm rallied from a 10-point first quarter deficit and rebounded after coughing up a third quarter lead to post a 73-64 win over the Bears in non-conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande remained unbeaten in four outings with the win.
Pikeville slipped to 6-2 with the loss.
The Bears bolted to 12-2 lead just five minutes into the game, but the RedStorm methodically began the road back and, eventually, opened up a 27-21 lead of its own after a conventional three-point play by junior Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) with 5:40 left in the first half.
Holden, who had struggled offensively in Rio’s first three games, kept the RedStorm afloat in the first half by scoring 19 of her game-high 25 points before the intermission.
Rio Grande still held a five-point advantage, 40-35, after a bucket by sophomore Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) with 4:27 remaining in the third period, but UPike scored on each of its next three possessions and regained a 41-40 edge after a jumper by Mary Englert with 2:40 left in the quarter.
Holden countered with a three-pointer just under 1-1/2 minutes later to kick start a 12-0 run which put the RedStorm in front to stay.
Rio led by as many as 16 points, 63-47, after a basket by senior Megan Liedtke (Beverly, OH) with 5:11 remaining and the Bears got no closer than nine points – twice in the final 1:12 – the rest of the way.
Holden, who missed tying her single-game career-high by one point, also led the RedStorm with six rebounds and three assists.
Chambers finished with 12 points and six steals for the RedStorm, who survived 21 turnovers with a 42-40 edge in rebounding and by shooting 53 percent from the floor in the second half.
Englert had 23 points to lead UPike, while Emily Baker and Sierra Feltner had six rebounds each and Elisabeth Latham finished with five blocks.
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night, hosting Wright State University-Lake in the opening round of the Bevo Francis Invitational. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.