CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – It may not have been the most picturesque performance for the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team, but it did produce a much-needed victory.
The RedStorm survived 20 turnovers and a never-say-die effort from host Ohio Christian University for an 85-76 win over the Trailblazers, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference action at the Maxwell Center.
Rio Grande, which snapped an eight-game losing skid, improved to 14-12 overall and 5-9 in league play with the victory.
The RedStorm also took a game-and-a-half lead over Carlow University with three games left to play for the fourth – and final – post-season berth out of the RSC’s East Division as a result of the win.
Ohio Christian dropped to 1-22 overall and 0-14 in the RSC with a 19th consecutive loss.
The Trailblazers trailed by as many as 11 points on two different occasions in the second quarter, but sliced the deficit to just four points inside the final two minutes of the period before trailing by six, 44-38, at the intermission.
Rio Grande extended its lead to as many as 13 points, 51-38, after a three-pointer by senior Chelsy Slone (Gallipolis, OH) with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter, but OCU rallied again and pulled within two, 61-59, following a pair of Staci Dinsmore free throws with 1.1 seconds left in the period.
Rio surged ahead again by scoring the first nine points of the fourth stanza and taking a 69-59 cushion after a conventional three-point play by junior Natalie Seeberg (Urbana, OH) with 6:46 remaining in the game, but the Trailblazers ran off nine of the next 11 points to draw within 71-68 following a bucket by Helaina Limas with 5:19 left to play.
However, it was as close as OCU got the rest of the way.
A 10-2 scoring spurt by the RedStorm over the next 2-1/2 minutes pushed the lead to 11 points with 2:43 remaining and settled the issue once and for all.
Rio Grande withstood its 20 turnovers by shooting 51 percent from the field (32-for-62) and enjoying a whopping 51-21 edge in rebounding.
Senior Jaida Carter (New Philadelphia, OH) had a team-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds and a game-best six assists, while sophomore Jimi Howell (Barberton, OH) netted a career-high 22 points while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Slone had 16 points to go along with a career-high five assists, while freshman Avery Harper (Seaman, OH) narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. Senior Megan Liedtke (Beverly, OH) also had eight points and nine rebounds.
Ohio Christian, which lost to Rio for a fourth straight time, shot just 36 percent from the floor overall (26-for-72) and was just 9-for-31 from three-point range (29%).
Dinsmore equaled a career-high with a game-high 30 points for the Trailblazers. She also had a game-high nine steals, a team-high eight rebounds and a team-high five assists.
Limas added 16 points in a losing cause, while Maddie O’Connell tallied 13 points and Carolane Cox had five assists of her own.
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday night when it travels to Pittsburgh, Pa. to face Point Park University. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.