Rio advances to MSC Semi's
March 3, 2011By Mark Williams of University of Rio Grande
Frankfort, Ky. --- The University of Rio Grande RedStorm women's basketball team won its first ever Mid-South Conference tournament game on Thursday afternoon in the MSC Tournament quarterfinals at the Farnham Dudgeon Arena inside the Frankfort Convention Center by the score of 74-61 over the University of the Cumberlands.
Rio Grande (19-12), the No. 5 seed in the tournament, used a strong start, nailing eight of its first 11 shots in the game to take control of the game. Rio led 22-11 and held the lead at double digits for the majority of the contest.
Rio would take a 39-29 lead to halftime.
The RedStorm went over four minutes without scoring to begin the second half, but the Patriots could not take advantage. After the initial drought, Rio steadily increased the lead in the second half, getting it as high as 19 points at 67-48.
Senior guard and All-MSC selection Jenna Smith (Bellefontaine, OH) led four Rio players in double figures with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Senior forward Leah Kendro (Strongsville, OH) followed Smith with 16 points for the RedStorm. Junior guard Kaylee Helton (Lucasville, OH) finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, while senior point guard Bre Davis (Marietta, OH) scored 11, handed out five assists and pulled down four rebounds.
Cumberlands (16-15), the No. 4 seed in the tournament, playing without the services of injured All-MSC performer Lauren Wombles, was paced by Samantha Coleman's game-high 20 points. Ida Gustafasson scored 10 and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Patriots to a 48-42 advantage on the glass.
Rio cooled off after the sizzling start and ended the game shooting 42.9 percent (27-of-63) from the field and 29.2 percent (7-of-24) from long range. Cumberlands was cold from the field, shooting 26-of-73 (35.6 percent) and 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.
"We live another day," said Rio Grande head coach David Smalley. "I thought in the last two games of the regular season we didn't have the emotion and energy that we needed. Today, I think our players re-found that and did a nice job."
"Of course Cumberlands is a very, very good ballclub, well-coached and they were without their star, Wombles and that certainly would have made a difference in the game," Smalley added. "You've got to live in the moment and this was the moment and I thought our kids played really well."
The RedStorm take the series season two games to one over the Patriots.
Rio Grande advances to the MSC semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. against the winner of No. 1 seed and NAIA No. 4 Campbellsville and No. 8 seed St. Catharine.
Rio lost both games versus Campbellsville during the regular season and defeated St. Catharine in both match-ups.
Stretch Internet and iHigh.com will have play-by-play coverage of the game beginning at 1:55 p.m.