MARION, Ind. — Indiana Wesleyan University, the number two ranked women’s basketball team in NAIA Division II, jumped to a 13-point halftime lead and continued to pull away in the second half, cruising to a 64-41 win over the University of Rio Grande, Saturday afternoon, in the final round of the Leah Whittaker Memorial Classic at Luckey Arena.
The Wildcats improved to 12-0 with the victory.
Rio Grande dropped its seventh consecutive decision and fell to 2-8 overall.
The RedStrom took a 2-0 lead on a short jumper in the lane by junior guard Kate Hammond just 65 seconds into the contest, but IWU tied the game moments later on its ensuing possession and took the lead for good on a bucket by Paige Smith with 17:36 left in the opening half.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 13 points, 28-15, at the intermission thanks in large part to Rio Grande’s ice-cold shooting touch. Head coach David Smalley’s club hit just five of its 24 shots from the field in the opening stanza (20.8 percent).
Hammond scored the first points of the second half as well, drawing the RedStorm to within 11 points just 15 seconds into the period, but that’s as close as they’d get the rest of the way.
IWU’s advantage grew to as many as 29 points, 62-33, with just under five minutes to play.
Taylor Goshert led the Wildcats with 13 points, while Smith added 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Claire Ray added 11 points to the winning effort, while Emma Stahl handed out a game-high six assists and finished with a team-high three steals.
Hammond netted 13 points and was the only Rio Grande player to reach double figures. Sophomore forward Tinesha Taylor grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for the RedStorm, while freshman forward Julia Heaberlin had a club-best two assists and tied freshman guard Nichole Mabry for team honors with three steals.
Rio Grande finished just 16-for-52 from the field overall (30.8 percent), including a 2-for-10 showing from three-point range. The RedStorm also hit just seven of their 14 free throw tries, were outrebounded 46-35 and committed 22 turnovers.
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night, traveling to former America Mideast Conference rival Mount Vernon Nazarene University for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff. The RedStorm won its earlier meeting with the Cougars, posting a 75-59 season-opening win on November 6 at the Newt Oliver Arena.