Updated Wed, Feb 12, 2014 4:33 pm
Picked to finish last in the Mid-South Conference, the Rio Grande RedStorm women’s basketball team surprised many around the MSC by winning 12 of its first 14 games. Since then Rio Grande has played a bit more as expected, having gone 3-7 including a four-game losing streak in late January.
Four of the seven loses have come by just single digits, with all of the games being highly competitive. The RedStorm have also had to deal with the strength of the MSC this season. The conference features three teams ranked in the NAIA Division I top-25, two of which are ranked in the top-10.
One of those two teams is the No. 4 Campbellsville University Tigers (22-2, 12-1 MSC), who the RedStorm (15-9, 4-4 MSC) will be traveling to play on Thursday. The Tigers have won nine games in a row and post an impressive 12-1 record in their home gym.
Currently in ninth place in the MSC, the RedStorm are in need of a strong finish in order to qualify for the conference tournament in March. With only six regular season games remaining, Rio Grande assistant coach Brandon Bias recognizes the opportunity at hand against Campbellsville.
“Anytime you have a chance to play against a top-five team it is a great chance to build your team up,” Bias said. “A win here would be big because it would get us right back in into the conference tournament hunt.”
Coming off a disappointing loss to Shawnee State, Bias also believes that that the team will be especially focused.
“Usually when we play after losses, we get a fire,” he said. “That loss against Shawnee isn’t going to shut us down, it’s only going to make us want to work harder.”
A focused and fiery effort from the RedStorm will be crucial when they tip off against the first place team in the MSC. Campbellsville boasts an offense that ranks in the top-five in NAIA Division I in categories such as assists, scoring margin, offensive rebounding and three-point percentage.
For Rio Grande, scoring will not be an issue. The RedStorm also boast a top offense as they have scored the second most points this season in the NAIA Division I, and have averaged the third most points per game with 87.3.
A key in this matchup will likely be rebounding, a factor that plagued Rio Grande in its loss against Shawnee when the RedStorm were outrebounded 49-36.
With a huge opportunity at hand, it will be interesting to see just what kind of fire Rio Grande will play with Thursday night against Campbellsville.