Rio women draw Columbia in NAIA opener


By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing



Members of the 2021-22 University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team pose for a picture after capturing the River States Conference tournament championship in Rio Grande, Ohio.

Members of the 2021-22 University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team pose for a picture after capturing the River States Conference tournament championship in Rio Grande, Ohio.


Courtesy photo

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande will square off with Columbia (Mo.) College in the opening round of the NAIA Women’s Basketball Championship next Friday, March 11, at 7 p.m., at Marian University Arena in Indianapolis.

The 64-team field and tournament bracket was released by the NAIA national office on Thursday night.

The RedStorm is the No. 7 seed in the Liston Quadrant and is part of a four-team pod hosted by Marian University. The host Knights are the No. 2 seed in the pod, with 10th-seeded Columbia and 15th-seeded Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) completing the quartet.

Marian will play Olivet Nazarene in Friday’s 5 p.m. opener, with the Rio-Columbia matchup to follow 30 minutes after the first game at approximately 7 p.m.

Friday’s winners will meet for the pod championship on Saturday, March 12, at 6 p.m., with that winner advancing to the Round of 16 beginning March 17 at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.

Rio Grande, which was ranked No. 20 in the final regular season NAIA coaches’ poll, earned its trip to the national tournament as the River States Conference regular season and tournament champion.

Head coach David Smalley’s squad defeated Midway University, 95-86, in Tuesday night’s RSC Tournament final, improving to 31-2 for the season with its ninth straight victory. The 31 wins represent a new single-season record in the program’s history.

The RedStorm is led by RSC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, junior guard Ella Skeens. The Chillicothe, Ohio native averages a team-high 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest and, among its regulars, is shooting a team-best 41.3 percent from three-point range.

Skeens is joined by fellow first team All-RSC honoree, junior forward Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH), who averages 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. She is shooting 52.8 percent from the floor overall and 85 percent from the foul line.

Rio’s starting lineup also includes a pair of second team All-RSC picks in freshman Kaylee Darnell (Wheelersburg, OH) and senior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH). Darnell averages 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest, while Chambers averages 8.9 points and a club-high 5.8 assists per outing.

Freshman center Aleea Crites (Parkersburg, WV) rounds out the RedStorm’s first five, averaging 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 62.3 percent from the field.

Columbia College also sports a nine-game winning streak and is 26-6 for the season after posting a 53-48 win over top-seeded Lyon (Ark.) in the American Midwest Conference Tournament Championship.

The Cougars enjoyed a 33-20 lead at the intermission and held on down the stretch for the win to claim their sixth AMC tournament title.

Mallory Shetley had 16 points and three assists in the victory, while Clare Shetley had eight points to go along with a team-high 12 rebounds and three steals.

Fifth-year head coach Taylor Possail’s squad is led by Mallory Shetley, a 6-0 freshman forward, who averages 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

Sophomore guard Mackenzie Dubbert (5-9) and freshman guard Abby Backes (5-5) average 10.5 and 9.8 points per game, respectively, while Clare Shetley — a 6-0 senior forward — checks in at 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.

Rounding out the Cougars’ list of regulars is sophomore guard Peyton Crowe (5-9), who averages 9.0 ppg in the club’s balanced scoring attack.

The matchup will be the first between the two schools.

Members of the 2021-22 University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team pose for a picture after capturing the River States Conference tournament championship in Rio Grande, Ohio.
https://www.mydailytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2022/03/web1_3.9-RIO-Champs.jpgMembers of the 2021-22 University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team pose for a picture after capturing the River States Conference tournament championship in Rio Grande, Ohio. Courtesy photo

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

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

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