RIO GRANDE, Ohio — In arguably its most important game to date, the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team received a pair of memorable performances from its top two scorers.
Ella Skeens poured in a career-high 40 points to go along with 14 rebounds, while Hailey Jordan tossed in 27 points and pulled down a career-best 13 rebounds to lead the RedStorm past Indiana University East, 96-88, Tuesday night, in River States Conference action at the Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande, which also got a career-best 11 assists from senior Chyna Chambers (Columbus, OH) in the victory, improved to 23-1 overall and 11-0 in conference play.
The RedStorm, which was tied for 18th in the latest NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 poll, also upped their lead over IU East in the RSC’s East Division to 2-1/2 games.
The Red Wolves dropped to 18-6 overall and 9-3 in the RSC with the loss.
Skeens, a junior from Chillicothe, Ohio, gave Rio what is believed to be just the fourth 40-point performance in program history and its first since Sarah Bonar dropped in 41 points in a win over Ohio Valley University on Dec. 12, 2015.
The program’s single-game high of 46 points was set by Lee Ann Mullins against Wingate on Nov. 19, 1988. Mullins also had 44 points against Wingate later that same season on Feb. 20, 1989.
Jordan, a junior from Columbus, Ohio, finished two points shy of equaling her single-game career-high.
Both players did the bulk of their collective damage in the first and final periods.
Skeens actually had 11 points in the first, second and fourth quarters, while Jordan had 10 points in the opening period and 14 in the final stanza. The duo accounted for all but two of Rio Grande’s 27 fourth quarter points.
Still, the RedStorm found themselves trailing by three at the end of the first quarter, by four at halftime and by five points, 76-71, following a bucket by IU East’s Kennedy Griffin with 6:51 left in the game.
Jordan capped an 8-2 run with a conventional three-point play to give Rio a 79-78 advantage with 5:38 remaining, but the Red Wolves got the lead back on their ensuing possession thanks to a Kami McEldowney layup which made it 80-79 with 5:07 left.
Rio took the lead for good, though, when Skeens followed with six straight points to produce an 85-80 edge with 2:48 remaining and IU East got no closer than three points — on three separate occasions — the rest of the way.
Rio Grande shot 45.7 percent overall (37-for-81), was 18-for-22 at the free throw line (81.8%) and outrebounded its guest, 55-29, to help offset 20 turnovers.
IU East hit 32 of its 66 overall attempts (48.5%), including seven three-pointers, and was 17-for-23 at the charity stripe (73.9%).
McEldowney led five double-digit scorers for the Red Wolves with 20 points and also had three steals. Bethany Mackin and Griffin finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, while Addie Brown and Taylor Browning each netted 10 points.
Browning also had team-high eight rebounds, while Brown handed out six assists and had three steals of her own.
Rio Grande is set to return to action on Thursday against West Virginia University-Tech in Beckley, W.Va. Tipoff has been moved to 3 p.m. as a result of the impending winter weather.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.