RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Brooke Marcum recorded her second straight double-double and Brianna Thomas filled up the stat sheet in just about every category, as the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team captured their first Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament Championship since the 2010-2011 season with a 81-73 victory over West Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon in Newt Oliver Arena.
The RedStorm (5-0) continued to march toward the best start since the aforementioned season, as they were battle-tested throughout and found themselves trailing - albeit early in the first half - for the first time this season.
“After losing in the first round of the tournament last year, I’m excited and happy for a win,” Rio Grande head coach David Smalley said. “I was anxious to see how we would handle the pressure down the stretch and, even though we never really were down, I thought we held our composure when facing foul trouble to some of our key players. We didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing, but we played well enough to get the victory.”
Marcum, a freshman from Vinton, Ohio, followed up her career-night of 18 points and 10 rebounds with a 13-points and 10-rebounds outing, earning her All-Tournament team honors.
Thomas, a junior from Maplewood, N.J., continues to blossom in her first season at Rio Grande and kept statisticians busy with a 15-point, seven-rebound, five-assist and four-steal afternoon en route to earning tournament MVP honors.
West Virginia Tech (1-5) fought the RedStorm virtually point for point until an 18-18 tie with seven minutes in the first half was extinguished with a 20-8 Rio Grande run to end the half.
Although the RedStorm enjoyed its largest lead of 20 points midway through the second half, the Golden Bears would continue to battle and pulled the game as close as six points but would be unable to overcome the deficit.
Joining Marcum and Thomas in Tournament honors was freshman Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV), who scored a career-high 13 points in the contest.
Sophomore Sarah Bonar (Hartford, OH) would also crack the double-digit scoring column with 11 points and six rebounds.
West Virginia Tech was led on the night by Nia Nolan, who netted game-high 31 points grabbed eight rebounds to earn All-Tournament honors.
Cheyanna Lusk was the only other Golden Bear to reach double figures with 14 and was also named to the All-Tournament team.
Rio Grande will return to action at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night in Newt Oliver Arena when they play host to West Virginia State.