RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Cumberland University gave Rio Grande women’s basketball head coach David Smalley the outcome he feared, rather than the one he was hoping for, in the Mid-South Conference opener for both schools on Thursday night.
The Bulldogs, who were making their debut as a full-time member of the MSC, closed the first half on a 37-8 run and overwhelmed the RedStorm, 92-56, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Cumberland improved to 5-0 overall with the win, while also avenging a six-point loss to Rio Grande last season.
The RedStorm slipped to 2-2 with the loss.
Rio Grande trailed just 19-15 following a jumper by junior forward Kate Hammond with 11:49 left in the first half, but the Bulldogs set sail on their lopsided scoring spurt to open up a 56-23 lead at the intermission.
Cumberland continued to pull away after the break and led by as many as 49 points, 82-33, after Casie Cowan hit one of two free throw attempts with 6:56 remaining in the game.
Cowan finished as the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, netting 22 points off the bench to lead five players in double figures. She connected on five of her eight three-point attempts.
Tacouya Allen added 13 points in the win, while London Elie had 12 and the duo of Jessica Pace and Briannica Tye tallied 11 points each. Elie added seven rebounds and three blocked shots, while Pace also had seven rebounds and Allen was credited with four steals.
Cumberland shot 56.5 percent from the field (35-for-62) for the game - 57.5 percent in the first half (23-for-40) and 54.4 percent after the break (12-for-22).
Rio Grande shot just 33.3 percent for the game, including a disastorous 7-for-24 (29.2%) in the first half.
Senior guard Shardai Morrison-Fountain led the RedStorm with 15 points, while freshman forward Ciara Herring had a career-best 11 points off the bench. Fellow freshman Sarah Bonar finished with eight points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Rio Grande will host 18th-ranked University of the Cumberlands on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Patriots, who are coached by former Rio Grande assistant coach Melissa Irvin, dropped a 61-56 decision at No. 2 Shawnee State on Thursday night.