HARRODSBURG, Ky. — The final three minutes of the first half and the opening two minutes of the third quarter had Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg eyeing what would’ve been the biggest win in the fledgling program’s history.
But as the second half wore on, the Pioneers’ dream of an upset turned into an afterthought.
The University of Rio Grande erased a 12-point third quarter deficit and outscored its host 12-3 down the stretch to pull away for a 95-78 victory, Tuesday night, in women’s basketball action at the Conover Center.
Rio Grande won for a fourth straight time and for the 10th time in its last 12 outings, upping its season mark to 11-7.
CU-Harrodsburg, an National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Division II program in its third year of existence, dropped to 1-5 with a fifth straight loss.
The Pioneers appeared poised to make history after an 18-0 run, which bridged the final 2:50 of the first half and the first 1:40 of the second half, produced a 53-41 advantage following Jaiden Douthit’s putback of her own miss with 8:20 left in the period.
At that point, though, the RedStorm awoke from their slumber.
Rio reeled off 13 straight points over the next 3-1/2 minutes and regained a 54-53 edge following a pair of free throws by sophomore Lexi Woods (Waverly, OH) with 4:40 remaining in the quarter.
The spurt was the first half of a 26-5 run by the RedStorm, which ended in a 67-58 cushion following a layup by senior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) with 1:29 showing on the third quarter clock.
The Pioneers closed the gap to 70-64 when Oriona Woods drilled a three-pointer as time expired to end the quarter, but got no closer the rest of the way.
CU-H was still in striking distance after a bucket by Woods with 4:41 remaining in the contest made it 83-75, but Rio Grande scored 12 of the game’s final 15 points to win going away.
Chambers led a quartet of double-digit scorers for the RedStorm with a season-high 17 points, while also dishing out a game-best nine assists.
Sophomore Regan Willingham (Ashville, OH) added 16 points to the winning effort, while Woods and freshman Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH) tossed in 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Woods – who also blocked a game-high three shots – had all but one of her points in the second half, while Brisker had eight of her tallies in the fourth quarter.
Rio Grande also received eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds from junior Avery Harper (Seaman, OH), while freshman Aleea Crites (Parkersburg, WV) was credited with four steals.
The RedStorm shot 61.3 percent from the floor in the second half (19-for-31) and out rebounded the Pioneers, 31-9, over the final two quarters.
E’Moni Washington led CU-H with a game-high 25 points, but scored just six points after halftime. She also tied for team-high honors with three assists and a pair of blocked shots.
Woods, the Pioneers’ leading scorer last season, scored 20 points and a had a team-high six rebounds in her season debut. She missed the club’s first five games while recovering from the effects of COVID-19.
Alyssa Roberts added 14 points and three assists in a losing cause, while Douthit had three assists and a pair of steals.
CU-Harrodsburg shot just under 59 percent from the floor in its 29-point second quarter and connected on a season-high 12 three-pointers – nearly twice its per game average – in the loss.
For the game, the Pioneers finished 26-for-66 from the floor overall (39.4%) and just 14-for-26 at the free throw line (53.8%).
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Saturday afternoon when it hosts River States Conference division rival Point Park University for a 3 p.m. tipoff at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.