Rio Grande Falls to No. 8 Campbellsville

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The Rio Grande RedStorm (14-5, 3-3) women’s basketball team met its match Saturday afternoon when it fell 80-64 to the No. 8 Campbellsville Tigers (16-2, 7-1 MSC) at Newt Oliver Arena.

The Tigers proved why they are ranked No. 8 throughout the night, but especially in the second half.

Rio Grande entered the locker room at halftime with the momentum and only a three-point deficit. But Campbellsville came out on a mission in the second half.

The Tigers’ extended 2-3 zone began to give Rio Grande issues, as the RedStorm turned the ball over 22 times in the game.

“We worked on facing that defense but, to be honest, I didn’t think it was going to affect us as much as it did,” Rio Grande head coach David Smalley said. “We just weren’t able to attack out of it or hit any perimeter shots.”

Campbellsville’s length played a large role in slowing down the RedStorm’s No. 2 scoring offense in the country. Rio Grande shot just 35.3 percent from the floor on the night. They also failed to connect from three in the second half, going 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.

“Their height and length really got to us,” Smalley said. “They affected our shooters and affected us mentally.”

Campbellsville quickly extended its lead in the second half. The Tigers went on a 19-8 run to begin the half, and found themselves leading 55-41 with13:33 left in regulation. The RedStorm never got the deficit to less than 10, and were still trailing 68-51 with 7:12 left to play when they began to press. The high-pressure defense failed to change the tide, as the RedStorm were trailing 76-56 with five minutes to play before falling 80-64.

Senior guard Katie Allen paced the Tigers offensively, scoring a team-high 16 points. Twelve of those from came from beyond the arc. Junior Daizah Kimberland forced the issue inside for Campbellsville, finishing with 15 points.

With three senior starters, Campbellsville’s experience was apparent throughout the contest. Rio has no seniors on its active roster. The RedStorm’s only senior, Katie Hammond, is medically redshirting this season with a broken hand.

“They’re such a deep ball club and they have so much experience,” Smalley said. “Then I look up at our team and I have my junior point guard and four freshman on the court.”

Junior guard Brianna Thomas yet again led Rio Grande. Thomas scored 22 points and added four assists. She did, however, have seven turnovers.

“I thought Bri played a great game,” Smalley said. “She turned it over like that because we all stood and watched her. In previous games we were all moving and helping her out.”

Sophomore Sarah Bonar added 13 points and freshman forward Alexis Payne finished with 11 points.

Rio Grande returns to action when it travels to the University of Pikeville on Jan. 23. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.