RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Sarah Bonar poured in 30 points, while teammate Brianna Thomas added 21 points of her own to lead the University of Rio Grande past Bluefield (Va.) College, 93-79, Thursday night, in Mid-South Conference women’s basketball action.
The RedStorm improved to 17-10 overall and 6-9 in league play, forging a three-way tie for sixth place in the MSC standings with Bluefield and the University of Pikeville in the process.
The Rams slipped to 12-12 overall and 6-9 in the MSC with the loss.
Freshman forward Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) also added 16 points in the winning effort for Rio, while freshman forward Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) netted 10 points.
The RedStorm trailed by as many as six points with 12:26 remaining in the first half and were still staring at a 26-25 deficit following a pair of free throws by Bluefield’s Janee Simmons with 6:08 left before the intermission when Thomas and Bonar lit the fire on a game-changing run.
Thomas, a junior guard from Maplewood, NJ, had nine points and Bonar - a sophomore forward from Hartford, Ohio - tallied six points of her own in a 22-3 Rio run over the next 5-1/2 minutes as the RedStorm built an 18-point advantage.
Rio’s lead twice reached as many as 22 points in the second half, although Bluefield methodically chipped away at the deficit and pulled as close as 10 points, 82-72, following a pair of Alexis Grant free throws with 3:16 remaining.
But that’s as close as the Rams would get.
Asia Wheeler, who had 18 points and a game-high nine rebounds in a losing cause for BC, fouled out just seven seconds later and was assessed a technical foul while leaving the floor and Rio responded with six straight points - four by Bonar and two by Payne and all from the free throw line - to put the win on ice.
The Rams got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
The two teams were whistled for 62 combined fouls and teamed to shoot a staggering 92 free throws - 53 of which were attempted by the RedStorm.
Marcum and freshman guard Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) had five rebounds each to lead Rio Grande, which shot 62.5 percent in the second half (10-for-16) and 55.3 percent for the game (26-for-47). Baines also had four assists and Thomas finished with a team-high four steals.
In addition to Wheeler, the Rams had three other players reach double figures. Teqa McNeal had a team-high 23 points, while Grant finished with 12 and Monique Robson netted 10.
BC outrebounded Rio, 34-30, and shot 45.1 percent from the floor (23-for-51), but hurt its own cause with 23 turnovers.
Rio Grande returns to action on Saturday when it wraps up the home portion of its regular season schedule against the University of Pikeville on Parents Appreciation Day.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.