Updated Fri, Jan 24, 2014 4:42 pm
Once again it came down to the final minute for the RedStorm. This time, however, the Rio Grande women’s basketball team was not able to come out on top. The RedStorm fell 100-97 to the University of Pikeville Bears on Thursday at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Another high-scoring affair for Rio Grande entered the final minutes deadlocked. The two teams traded 3-pointers to tie the game, but a late Pikeville three proved to be the difference-maker. Two free throws by Pikeville’s Callisha Johnson were the final scores of the night.
Pikeville, which only averages 78 points per game, scored 22 points more than its season average to record a season high. Rio Grande assistant coach Brandon Bias does not feel that all of the blame should be put on the defense.
“It’s not that we played terrible defense,” Bias said. “I don’t know if teams circle us on their schedule or something, but they know it’s going to be a fast paced game when they play us and it seems like almost every one of our games is a shootout.”
Much of Pikeville’s offensive success came from unlikely sources. Rio Grande shut down the Bears’ leading scorer, Callisha Johnson. The senior guard has been averaging 19 points on the year, but was held to just four. Two post players stepped up in key moments for Pikeville. Junior forward Khalilah Quigley led the Bears with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. Freshman center Cheyenne Madden was not far behind, tallying a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Pikeville’s bench outscored Rio Grande’s bench 33-12.
For Rio, the offense ran through Brianna Thomas the entire night. The junior guard finished with a game-high 24 points along with four assists and six rebounds. Sophomore Sarah Bonar added 20 points and nine rebounds. The RedStorm had a balanced attack throughout the game, with six players scoring in double digits. Rio Grande also connected at a prolific rate from the line, shooting a combined 22-for-23 from the charity stripe.
Although the final score was not what the RedStorm had hoped for, Bias believes the team can take this performance in stride.
“We are just going to keep doing what we do,” he said. “When our conference teams are having to score 90 or 100 to beat us, that’s got to be intimidating to other squads. We’ve got some big home games coming up against ranked teams and we just need to stay consistent.”
Rio Grande will look to get back in the win column Saturday when it travels to Bluefield College to take on the Rams. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.