RIO GRANDE, Ohio — For the second straight outing, the University of Rio Grande found itself forced to play from behind.
And for the second straight outing, the RedStorm found itself victorious when all was said and done.
Head coach David Smalley’s club erased an 11-point second quarter deficit before coughing up an eight-point lead of its own in the third quarter and mounting one last fourth quarter uprising to post a 77-72 victory over the University of the Cumberlands, Saturday afternoon, in non-conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande improved to 7-4 with its third consecutive triumph, while earning a season split with the Patriots in the process.
Cumberlands, a former Mid-South Conference rival of the RedStorm’s coached by former Rio assistant Melissa Irvin, suffered a fourth straight loss after opening the season with six consecutive wins.
Rio Grande got off to a blazing start, scoring nine of the game’s first 11 points, but the Patriots methodically rebounded and parlayed a 13-3 run late in the opening quarter into a nine-point lead.
The advantage grew to 11 points, 38-27, following a three-pointer by LaTeesha DeLoach with 4:32 remaining in the first half, but UC failed to score again before intermission and the RedStorm pulled to within one, 38-37, at the break.
An 8-0 run by Rio Grande allowed the RedStorm to enjoy their largest lead of the day, 50-42, following a layup by junior Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter, but the Patriots responded again to tie the game by the close of the period and enjoy a three-point lead, 64-61, after Sarah Kelton knocked down a three-point goal with 5:43 left to play.
The lead would be UC’s last advantage, though.
Rio reeled off a 10-0 spurt over the next four minutes and grabbed a 71-64 advantage after a conventional three-point play by Marcum with 1:46 remaining in the game.
The Patriots, who posted a 13-point win over the RedStorm at home on Nov. 17, sliced the deficit to four points three more times in the game’s closing moments, but got no closer.
Senior Sarah Bonar (Hartford, OH) led Rio Grande – which shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half (12-for-19) and 55 percent for the game (26-for-47) with 18 points, while junior Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) had 15 points and five assists and Marcum finished with 13 points – all in the second half.
Cheyenne Madden and Lydia Box scored 22 points each for Cumberlands, while DeLoach added 14 points in a losing cause. Box also had a game-high seven rebounds.
Rio Grande will enjoy a short holiday break before returning to action on Dec. 30 at Ohio Christian in its Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.