Updated Fri, Feb 28, 2014 7:24 pm
The final game of the 2013-14 regular season for Rio Grande (16-12, 9-8) pits the RedStorm against the Cumberland University Bulldogs (13-13, 5-12) on Saturday afternoon at Dallas Floyd Recreation Center. The RedStorm look to snap their five-game losing skid against the second worst team in the Mid-South Conference before tournament play begins March 6.
Rio Grande’s five-game losing streak includes losses to Lindsey Wilson and Bluefield College, who both place in the bottom four in MSC standings.
With a loss on Saturday, the RedStorm would drop to a .500 record in conference play. A loss would also push the squad to sixth place in the MSC after being tied for first with Pikeville just over a month ago.
A 74-72 loss to the Bulldogs back on Nov. 21 is still fresh on the team’s mind. The defeat was just Rio’s second loss at home at that point in the season. Since that game, the RedStorm have gone on to a 10-4 record at Newt Oliver Arena.
The Bulldogs are coming off a much-needed 59-49 win over Shawnee State, which snapped Cumberland’s rough eight-game losing streak. To start the season, the Bulldogs won their first 10 games but have struggled in 2014 with only three wins since the beginning of January.
A win over Cumberland on the road is not out of the question as the Bulldogs have an unimpressive home record of 6-7. Cumberland, however, ranks 12th in Division I of the NAIA in scoring defense allowing just 67.7 points a game.
Containing Bulldogs freshman star is also a tall task for the RedStorm as he leads the team in nearly every category including points, assists, rebounds, and steals a game.
With a sixth consecutive loss possibly on the horizon, this game is a must-win for the RedStorm. A victory over the Bulldogs may give Rio the momentum it needs going into the daunting MSC tournament. A loss to a team already out of contention may prove detrimental and crush Rio’s hopes even before the tournament begins.