Late Rio rally falls short at Mount Vernon

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — It took nearly the entire first half for the University of Rio Grande to finally gain a lead.

When that lead evaporated and turned into a double-digit second half deficit, it proved to be a tad more than the RedStorm could handle.

Head coach David Smalley’s club twice cut a 12-point fourth quarter deficit down to one, but failed to get over the hump in an eventual 99-91 loss to Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Wednesday night, in non-conference women’s basketball action at Ariel Arena.

The Cougars snapped a two-game losing streak with the win, improving to 7-2 overall.

Rio Grande suffered a second straight loss, dropping to 5-3.

The RedStorm trailed by as many as seven points early on before taking its first lead of the night, 36-35, on a three-pointer by senior Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) with 3:28 left in the first half.

The lead grew to 46-43 by the intermission, but MVNU exploded for 33 points in the third quarter and opened up a 10-point lead of its own entering the final stanza.

The Cougars’ cushion reached 12 points, 84-72, following a bucket by Elizabeth Fee with 6:59 remaining in the game, but Rio countered with 14-3 run over the next four minutes and closed within 87-86 following another trifecta by Holden with 2:54 remaining.

A pair of free throws by freshman Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH) had Rio back within one, 89-88, with 1:29 left, but a 5-0 Mount Vernon run over the course of the next minute gave the Cougars the lead for good and the RedStorm got no closer.

Maggie Coblentz scored a career-high 24 points to lead five double-digit scorers for MVNU. Taylor Gregory added 18 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in the winning effort, surpassing the 1,000-point mark for her career in the process.

Sage Brandon added 18 points of her for the Cougars, who connected on 10 three-pointers as a team, while Maggie Coe and Dani Ellerbrock tallied 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Jordan had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for Rio Grande, while Holden also netted 22 points and freshman Lexi Woods finished with 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

Sophomore Avery Harper (Seaman, OH) added 13 points and 10 rebounds in a losing cause for the RedStorm, while freshman Samaria Rodgers-Gossett (Columbus, OH) handed out a game-high six assists.

Rio shot just 36 percent in the second half (16-for-44), while the Cougars connected on 51.5 percent (17-for-33) of their field goal attempts.

Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday evening when it hosts sixth-ranked Saint Francis (IN).

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Newt Oliver Arena.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.