WILMORE, Ky. — On the heels of a disappointing loss at West Virginia University Tech last Thursday, University of Rio Grande head coach David Smalley didn’t envision a 10-point first quarter deficit against Asbury University on Tuesday night as part of the bounce-back script.
Fortunately, though, Smalley’s club grabbed their collective pens and set about authoring a complete re-write.
Freshman Lexi Woods finished with a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds, while teammate Sydney Holden recorded her second career triple-double and just the third such performance in program history as the RedStorm posted a 103-93 win over the Eagles in River States Conference women’s basketball action at the Luce Activities Building.
Rio Grande improved to 13-8 overall and 6-2 in conference play with the win.
Asbury, which had a two-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 15-6 overall and 4-4 in the RSC as a result of the loss.
Woods set a new career-high in scoring for the third straight game. The Waverly, Ohio native finished 12-for-22 from the field and 10-for-11 at the free throw line.
Holden, a senior from Wheelersburg, Ohio, tallied 16 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists for Rio’s first triple-double since Holden herself turned the trick in a win over Ohio Christian University on Dec. 1, 2018.
Still, Asbury appeared well on its way to an eighth win in nine tries at home, jumping to a 21-11 lead after a pair of free throws by Autumn Herriford with 2:40 remaining in the first quarter.
Rio countered with a 14-1 run, though, which bridged the remainder of the quarter and the opening minute of the second stanza, to take a 25-22 advantage following a three-pointer by Holden, but the Eagles reeled off 10 straight points to regain a 32-25 edge after a conventional three-point play by Herriford with 7:38 left in the first half.
The RedStorm rallied and eventually settled for a 44-43 lead at the intermission before extending their cushion to 12 points, 72-60, after a bucket by Woods with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Rio’s largest lead of the night was 15 points, 93-78, following a three-pointer by freshman Kaylie Apperson (McConnelsville, OH) with 5:39 left to play, but Asbury refused to go away quietly and scored 15 of the game’s next 21 points to pull within 99-93 after a conventional three-point play by Herriford with 2:46 remaining.
But the Eagles got no closer.
Asbury went 0-for-5 from the floor on its final four possessions of the contest, while the RedStorm got a pair of free throws from freshman Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH) with 1:10 remaining and two more free throws from Holden with 42.1 left to play to set the final score.
Rio Grande shot 57 percent from the floor (20-for-35) and 76.5% from the charity stripe (13-for-17) in the second half.
The RedStorm also enjoyed a 58-44 advantage in rebounding.
In addition to the offensive performances of Woods and Holden, Rio also got 13 points and nine rebounds from sophomore Avery Harper (Seaman, OH), 12 points from Jordan and 11 from junior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH).
Asbury shot just 36 percent for the game (30-for-83) and was just 10-for-33 from beyond the arc after hitting 21 trifectas in a win over Alice Lloyd on Saturday.
Kelsey Johnson led the Eagles with a season-high 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Zaria Napier had 17 points and Herriford finished with 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
Sarah King added 12 points in a losing cause for Asbury.
Rio Grande returns to action on Thursday night when it opens a three-game homestead against Alice Lloyd College.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.