Updated Thu, Feb 20, 2014 11:37 pm
Warm temperatures heated up the village of Rio Grande outside of Newt Oliver Arena but the RedStorm were stuck in winter as they turned ice cold in the fourth quarter and fell to Bluefield, 78-73.
A pink-out for breast cancer awareness filled the rowdy home crowd of Rio Grande. The noise of the energetic crowd propelled Rio to an early 11-6 lead and forced Bluefield into an early time out in effort to regain composure. Rio and Bluefield hit the locker room tied at 33 but excessive turnovers and defensive struggles stood in the way for a RedStorm victory.
Rio turned the ball over 17 times and allowed Bluefield to shoot 50 percent from the field. Rio Grande led by four points with 3:19 remaining in the contest until the Rams nudged their way back into the game. The Rams controlled the pace of the game in the final minutes and exploded on a 12-3 run to hand Rio its third-straight loss.
“We got away from what we were doing,” head coach Ken French said. “The ball stuck and we didn’t move the ball.”
Struggles down the stretch of close games have become a habit for Rio Grande in February. The RedStorm led St. Catharine by two points in the final minutes before the Patriots ran on a 16-3 to shut down the RedStorm on Feb. 15, 78-63.
“We’re our own worst enemy right now and we’ve got to bounce back,” French said.
Josh Reagan shined for the RedStorm with 24 points in the losing effort. Alex Lubsey strapped 21 points for Bluefield while Josh Nesbit and Andrew Wilson added 16 points each in the winning effort.
“We’re not playing like we have been and we’ve got to get better,” French said.
Geogetown fell to Lindsey Wilson, 86-76, Thursday, which eliminated the RedStorm from jumping the Tigers in the standings. Georgetown’s loss and Pikeville’s win over Shawnee State additionally awarded Pikeville the regular season Mid-South Conference regular season championship.
Now, the RedStorm has to face the Pikeville Bears. The last time the two teams met the RedStorm were coming off of an impressive six-game winning streak but fell, 96-78.
Rio Grande will host No.2 Pikeville on Saturday in the Newt Oliver Arena.