Rio Offense Rolls St. Catharine

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The Rio Grande RedStorm women’s basketball team continued to showcase their offensive firepower Thursday night, defeating the St. Catharine College Patriots 95-71.  The RedStorm entered the contest ranked No. 1 in scoring offense per game and showed the home fans at Newt Oliver Arena why they are the best offense in the NAIA Division I.

“It really just comes down to how unselfish our team is,” head coach David Smalley said. “You can’t just stop one or two people because we have so many who can score.”

The RedStorm’s ability to share the basketball tonight was one of the key factors to their success. Rio tallied 19 assists to just 14 turnovers.  The RedStorm’s guards were able to penetrate the Patriot defense and drop the ball off to open teammates inside. Freshman guard Sharday Baines did this the most frequently for Rio, finishing with eight assists.

“That’s why our Brooke Marcum’s, our Harley Adler’s and our Alexis Payne’s are scoring big points on the inside,” Smalley said. “Because we have the guards that are getting the ball to them.”

Freshman forward Alexis Payne led the way for Rio Grande, finishing with 22 points and six rebounds. The Deep Water, W.Va., native is just now getting healthy after playing through a dislocated big toe in the first four weeks of the season.

The RedStorm were also aided by freshman forward Brooke Marcum. Marcum, playing through lower back spasms, added 10 points and six rebounds in just 13 minutes of play. Sophomore forward Harley Adler sparked Rio with 16 points off the bench.

NAIA Division I scoring and steals leader Brianna Thomas had a somewhat quiet night offensively. However, the junior guard finished the night with four steals and upped her conference-leading total to 74 steals.

Rio Grande saw five players finish with double-digit scoring numbers.

The victory improved the RedStorm’s home record to 10-2, compared to a road record of 4-2. Smalley believes that the burden of traveling is one of the things that make playing on the road in the Mid-South Conference difficult.

“It truly is difficult to play on the road in this conference,” he said. “A lot of times we drive the same day and play the same day, which gets our team out of its routine a bit.”

The RedStorm, however, will be able to stick to their normal routine when they host the No. 5 Campbellsville University Tigers on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.