RIO GRANDE, Ohio — In a game that, at times, could be described as chaotic, the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball team outlasted Mid-South Conference rival Shawnee State University, 112-108 in overtime, Saturday afternoon at the Newt Oliver Arena.
The overtime contest was the first of its kind this season for Rio Grande, which improved to 13-4 overall and 2-3 in MSC play.
The victory also marked back-to-back wins for the RedStorm against Shawnee State for the first time in 47 all-time meetings with the arch-rival Bears.
The first half proved to be full of points scored in bunches.
Shawnee State held a 28-16 advantage with 10 minutes remaining in the half, but Rio would finish the half by scoring 31 of the final 47 points to take both a 47-44 lead and, perhaps more importantly, the momentum into the lockerroom.
The second half would then usher in a series of events that one would have a hard time forcing into a Hollywood movie script.
Rio Grande opened up a 59-49 lead with 16 minutes left, but would surrender the advantage in a matter of minutes as the Bears arose from their hibernation and put together a 27-10 run over the next seven minutes to grab a commanding 76-69 lead with 8-1/2 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Shawnee lead would remain seven, 89-82, with 2-1/2 minutes remaining in regulation before junior guard Brianna Thomas (Maplewood, NJ) knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four.
Both teams went scoreless until junior Sarah Bonar (Hartford, OH) converted on a layup to bring the RedStorm within three, 90-87, with 55 seconds remaining.
An exchange free throws over the ensuing 20 seconds put Shawnee up 93-89 with 32 seconds remaining and left Rio Grande preparing to inbound the ball.
A collision on the inbounds play between Thomas and Shawnee State senior guard Alannah Sheets resulted in a foul being whistled against Sheets and - after Sheets was initially slow to get up - a Shawnee State fan racing on the floor to check on her well-being.
The fan’s mad dash onto the court resulted in a technical foul against the Bears and four free throw attempts for Rio Grande - all of which were successful by Thomas - to knot the score at 93-93.
Another converted free throw by freshman forward Alexis Payne (Deep Water, WV) with just five seconds remaining in regulation gave Rio Grande a 94-93 lead and looked to wrap up a win for head coach David Smalley’s squad, but Shawnee forward Ali Zieverink was fouled with no time remaining and went to the free throw line with a chance to win the contest.
However, Zieverink made just one of the two attempts and the game headed to overtime where Payne and freshman center Brooke Marcum (Vinton, OH) combined for 12 points to finally give the RedStorm the win.
Shooting-wise, Rio Grande finished the game at 45 percent (40-for-91) from the field, 24 percent from beyond the arc (4-for-17), and 67 percent from the foul line (28-for-42), while Shawnee State would shoot 49 percent (36-for-73) overall, 38 percent (8-for-21) from three-point land and 73 percent from the charity stripe.
Rio Grande also forced 30 Shawnee State turnovers compared to just 16 of their own and outrebounded the Bears by a margin of 59-46.
Thomas led the RedStorm with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, followed by Marcum’s career-high 23 points and team-leading 14 rebounds and Payne’s 15 points.
Freshman guard Sharday Baines (East Cleveland, OH) chipped in with a career-high 14 points and freshman forward Harley Adler (Burton, OH) had 10 points.
For Shawnee (8-8, 1-4), Sheets dropped in a game-high 45 points, including six three-pointers, while Diane Abbady had 15 points and a team-leading 13 rebounds. Zieverink and Catrice Mitchell had 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Rio Grande will return to action next Thursday when they take on the Patriots of St. Catharine College at Newt Oliver Arena in a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Live video and play-by-play of the contest will be available at www.ihigh.com/redstorm.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.