Rio women rally past Crusaders

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — After seeing her team’s 13-point second quarter lead transform into an eight-point third quarter deficit, University of Rio Grande senior Alexis Payne decided to take matters into her own hands.

Payne scored 12 consecutive points over a span of 2-1/2 minutes to give the RedStorm a lead they would never relinquish in an eventual 74-65 win over Madonna (Mich.) University, Monday night, in non-conference women’s basketball action at the Newt Oliver Arena.

Rio Grande improved to 2-0 with the victory.

The Crusaders suffered their first loss in four outings.

Rio Grande appeared well on its way to an easy win after a three-point goal by junior Chelsy Slone (Gallipolis, OH) gave the RedStorm a 24-11 advantage just 13 seconds into the second quarter, but Madonna roared to life and regained a 37-36 lead at the intermission on a three-pointer by Cris Harper which just beat the halftime buzzer.

The Crusaders kept the momentum going into the second half and grabbed their largest lead of the contest, 48-40, on a layup by Harper with 4:37 left in the third period.

At that point, Payne – a native of Deep Water, W.Va. – said enough was enough.

She was responsible for all of Rio’s points in a 12-2 run – connecting on a pair of free throws, two buckets in the lane and a pair of three-pointers – which produced a 52-50 lead for the RedStorm with 1:54 remaining in the quarter.

Madonna did go back in front 53 seconds later on a conventional three-point play by Lindsey Hernden, but a bucket by junior Jasmine Smith (Canal Winchester, OH) with 29 seconds remaining in the period gave Rio Grande a lead it would never relinquish.

The Crusaders tied the game at 55-55 a little over a minute into the final stanza and were within one, 66-65, following a pair of Kacy Robinson free throws with 1:56 left in the game, but the RedStorm sealed the victory by scoring the final eight points of the night.

Payne finished with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a team-best three blocked shots.

Smith added 15 points and a team-high three assists, while sophomore Abby Wendel (Portland, IN) had 10 of her 14 points in the first half to fuel Rio’s quick start.

Wendel also had seven rebounds and a team-best four steals.

Hernden led Madonna with 15 points and a game-best five steals, while Harper had 12 points and Becca Sabol finished with 11 points – all in the second half – in addition to a team-high nine rebounds and a game-high five blocked shots.

Jayla Mayes-Jackson added 11 points off the bench in a losing cause for the Crusaders.

Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night when it faces Bryan (Tenn.) College in the opening round of the Union College Classic in Barbourville, Ky. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

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

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