Rio Prepares For Tough Campbellsville Squad

By
Patrick Gifford

Dateline
Updated Fri, Jan 17, 2014 5:53 pm
Photo Credit: 
Kaleb Carter
Alexis Payne notched 22 points and six rebounds to lead Rio Grande to a 24-point win over St. Catharine Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.

The Rio Grande RedStorm (14-4, 3-3) women’s basketball team will put a two-game winning streak on the line when it hosts the No. 8 Campbellsville Tigers (15-2, 6-1) on Saturday.

The RedStorm, fresh off of a 95-71 victory over the St. Catherine Patriots on Thursday, will look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s contest.

Campbellsville, leader of the Mid-South Conference, will be no easy task. The Tigers find themselves in the top 10 for countless team rankings. Campbellsville’s most lethal combination, however, is its high efficiency in both scoring offense and defense in which the Tigers are ranked fifth in Division I in both scoring defense per game and scoring offense per game. The Tigers allow less than 56 points per game and score more than 84.

“Campbellsville is the real deal,” Rio Grande head coach David Smalley said.

Coming off of a game in which it had five players scoring in double figures, Rio Grande will rely on its unselfishness and team play to combat the stout Tigers defense.

It all begins with the play of junior guard Brianna Thomas. The second-highest scorer in Division I averages 19.4 points per game and sets the tempo for the RedStorm.

“Bri could very well be a candidate for one of the best guards in the conference at the end of the year,” Smalley said. “She is well grounded and understands that the team goes as she goes. We are very lucky to have her.”

Lately, Thomas has been getting a lot of help from two freshmen standouts. Forwards Brooke Marcum and Alexis Payne have helped Thomas to carry the scoring load, as each has been a force inside.

Junior forward Sarah Bonar has also made her presence felt this season. She is averaging 17.1 points per game and ranks 12th in Division I with a field goal percentage of 52.3.

All of the RedStorm’s top scoring performers will need to play well in order for Rio to put up the type of offensive numbers that it has been recording.

“Campbellsville is long, they are going to zone press us and try to create some problems,” Smalley said. “They are going to try to control tempo and make this a low-scoring game.”

On offense, Campbellsville is led by junior guard Angie Lawrence. She averages a team-high 12.2 points per game and is shooting 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Tigers are also aided by sophomore forward Lindsey Burd, who averages 10.4 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds.

Although the RedStorm will be entering the game as underdogs, Smalley has full confidence in his team’s chances to win.

“We have our hands full, but this is exciting,” he said. “To be in the position we are in and have one of the big ones coming into our house. We’ll be ready.”

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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