RIO GRANDE, Ohio — With just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, the University of Rio Grande appeared well on its way to a blowout victory.
But, as has been the case all season long, nothing comes easy for the RedStorm.
Rochester (Mich.) University twice sliced the deficit to just seven points late in the fourth quarter, while even closing the gap to six in the closing seconds, before Rio secured a 91-82 win over the Warriors, Friday night, in non-conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The game was the last of Friday’s three contests in the Woods Lumber Classic.
Rio Grande improved to 9-6 with a fourth straight victory.
Rochester, a member of the NAIA’s Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, dropped to 3-11 with a third consecutive loss.
Rio Grande opened up a 12-point halftime lead and twice extended its advantage to 19 points, the last of which came at 68-49 following a three-point goal by freshman Kaylie Apperson (McConnelsville, OH) with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter.
But Rochester refused to go away quietly and twice cut the deficit to seven points, including 80-73 after a bucket by Maddie Beck with 2:10 left in the game.
The Warriors actually got as close as 88-82 after a rebound and stick back by Robyn Pruitt with nine seconds left, but Apperson hit a pair of free throws with six seconds to play and freshman Bethany Arnold (Williamstown, WV) connected on one of two tries from the charity stripe with two seconds left to settle the issue once and for all.
Rio Grande was outscored 28-16 at the free throw line, but offset the differential by shooting 57 percent from the floor (16-for-28) in the second half and 52 percent for the game.
Sophomore Avery Harper (Seaman, OH) led five double-digit scorers for the RedStorm with 18 points. She also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Senior Sydney Holden (Wheelersburg, OH) added 14 points, six assists and three blocked shots in the winning effort, while freshmen Lexi Woods (Waverly, OH) and Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH) both had 13 points and Apperson tossed in 11 points.
Junior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) also had six assists and four steals for Rio, while freshman Samaria Rodgers-Gossett (Columbus, OH) also handed out six assists.
Devan Valko scored a game-high 30 points for Rochester, while also finishing with a team-high seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Lexey Tobel added 20 points and five assists for the Warriors.
The Woods Lumber Classic continues on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. with eight games on tap – one middle school matchup followed by seven high school contests.
Rio Grande will return to action on Monday, Dec. 30 when it travels to Nashville, Tenn. to face Fisk University. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.