Updated Fri, Feb 21, 2014 2:41 pm
On Feb. 15, the Rio Grande RedStorm women’s basketball team found themselves at what was perhaps the low point of their season.
The RedStorm had just fallen to No. 4 Campbellsville University by 36 points, which dropped Rio Grande to 4-9 in the Mid-South Conference. The RedStorm were suddenly on the outside looking in to the MSC postseason tournament.
With their backs against the wall, the RedStorm (17-10, 6-9 MSC) have since responded and won their last two games convincingly. They now finds themselves in sixth place in the MSC, but that conference standing will be put to the test again on Saturday, when Rio Grande tips off against the seventh place University of Pikeville Bears (12-15, 6-9 MSC).
The Bears came out on top in a shootout the last time these two teams matched up back in January. Two late free throws from Pikeville’s senior guard Callisha Johnson sealed the 100-97 win for the Bears.
This time, however, the stakes are much higher. With both teams entering the game with identical conference records, the winner will put itself in a favorable position entering the final two games of the regular season.
“It’s going to be a battle because we are both really in need of a win,” assistant coach Brandon Bias said. “A victory against Pikeville would obviously be huge for us so we’ll have a lot of motivation going.”
The RedStorm will have the luxury of taking on Pikeville in their home Newt Oliver Arena. Rio Grande is 12-4 at home this season, compared to just 5-6 on the road. Pikeville also has had its fair share of struggles away from home, losing nine of its 13 road games.
Pikeville comes into Saturday’s game in a different way than Rio Grande. The Bears have lost two straight games, and now finds themselves dropping in the conference stands while the RedStorm are rising.
With two teams trending in different directions, the 2 p.m. tipoff is sure to be chalk full of the intensity that can only be found when postseason position is on the line.