Updated Fri, Feb 21, 2014 10:42 am
For the second consecutive game, the RedStorm emerged from a must-win situation with a crucial victory. The Rio Grande women’s basketball team defeated the Bluefield College Rams 93-79 Thursday night and now sits ahead of the Rams (12-12, 6-9 MSC) in the Mid-South Conference.
With only three regular season games remaining, every matchup left on the RedStorm slate is important. They showed that sense of urgency Thursday night, as they never took their foot of the gas pedal.
In a physical game that saw a combined 92 free throws, Rio Grande (17-10, 6-9 MSC) put together an impressive offensive performance. Four RedStorm players scored in double digits in a complete offensive effort despite the foul trouble that Rio Grande endured.
“It was an all-around great team effort,” assistant coach Brandon Bias said. “Everyone that came in and played well and as a team we really executed everything almost to perfection.”
Sophomore forward Sarah Bonar had her best performance of the season, leading the RedStorm with 30 points. Bluefield College could find no answer for her defensively.
“They really just couldn’t guard her off of the dribble,” Bias said. “They either had to foul her or she made the basket. She ends up taking the backseat to Bri [Thomas] a lot, but people don’t know just how valuable she really is to us.”
While Bonar may have taken the driver’s seat on offense for the RedStorm, she received a fair amount of help from her teammates. Thomas, a junior guard, finished with 21 points, and freshman forwards Alexis Payne and Brooke Marcum added 16 and 10, respectively.
Senior guard Tega McNeal led Bluefield College with 23 points. Junior forward Asia Wheeler had 18.
On Feb. 13 Rio Grande suffered a blowout loss at the hands of No. 4 Campbellsville University. The RedStorm fell to ninth in the Mid-South Conference standings; only the top eight teams make the conference tournament. Since then, Rio Grande has won its last two matchups convincingly. The RedStorm are heating up at the right time, and Bias has noticed that sense of urgency in practice.
“On Wednesday we had what was probably the best practice we have had all year,” he said. “They know what is on the line and they know that we had to go out there and play to perfection. We told each one of them to be a star, and everyone was really able to play with confidence tonight.”
Rio’s next challenge comes against Pikeville on Sunday, Feb. 22. The RedStorm lost a Jan. 23 meeting with the Bears, 100-97.