Second half surge lifts Rio women past Trailblazers

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande piled up 61 second half points to erase an 11-point first half deficit and post a 94-85 win over Ohio Christian University, Saturday afternoon, in women’s basketball action at the Maxwell Center.

The RedStorm improved to 8-7 with the victory, their seventh in the past nine outings.

Ohio Christian dropped to 5-2 with the loss.

The Trailblazers appeared well on their way to a convincing win after Helaina Limas connected on a pair of free throws to produce a 42-31 lead with 44 seconds left in the first half and the lead remained at 11 points after a three-pointer by Rachel Bolyard with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter made it 47-36.

But Rio began the road back on its ensuing possession and reeled off 12 consecutive points — culminated by a conventional three-point play by freshman Aleea Crites (Parkersburg, WV) — to take a 48-47 lead with 6:19 left in the period.

The RedStorm stretched the lead to 56-50 after another bucket by Crites just over 2-1/2 minutes later, but OCU climbed off the mat with a 12-2 scoring spurt of its own over the next three minutes to regain a 62-58 advantage after Bolyard hit one of two free throw tries with 49 seconds remaining in the stanza.

The Trailblazers’ lead still stood at four points, 72-68, after a bucket by Limas with 6:55 left in the game, but Rio scored 10 of the game’s next 15 points to take a 78-77 lead with 3:56 remaining in the contest following a three-point goal by freshman Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH).

It was a lead that the RedStorm wouldn’t relinquish.

The run was actually part of a nearly six-minute stretch which saw Rio outscore its’ host, 20-9, to open up an 88-81 cushion after a layup by Brisker with 1:02 left to play.

The RedStorm led by no less than five points the rest of the way and the nine-point final margin of victory proved to be the largest lead of the day for head coach David Smalley’s squad.

Rio Grande shot a blistering 63.2 percent from the floor in the second half (24-for-38) to help overcome a 14-for-23 showing at the free throw line (60.9%), a 42-40 rebounding deficit and 18 turnovers.

Brisker led a quartet of double-digit scorer for Rio with 15 points, while sophomore Lexi Woods (Waverly, OH) and senior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) tossed in 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Crites added 11 points and a career-best five assists to the winning effort, while sophomore Hailey Jordan (Columbus, OH) had 10 rebounds and a game-high four steals.

Ohio Christian had 12 fewer field goals than the RedStorm, going 25-for-67 overall (37.3%), but finished 30-for-40 at the free throw line.

Limas and Bolyard tallied 25 and 23 points, respectively, for the Trailblazers, while reigning RSC Player of the Week Rachel Gillum had 19 points, a game-best 18 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in a losing cause.

Bolyard also had four assists for OCU.

Rio Grande was scheduled to play at Grace Christian (Mich.) College on Tuesday night, but the game has been postponed due to the state of Michigan’s COVID-delayed start to the season.

The RedStorm are now slated to return to the court next Thursday when St. Mary-of-the-Woods — a future River States Conference member — makes its first-ever visit to the Newt Oliver Arena for a 6 p.m. tipoff.

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.