Updated Sat, Feb 22, 2014 6:11 pm
Two made free throws by Rio Grande junior guard Brianna Thomas gave Pikeville the ball down three for one last try.
The Bears’ senior guard Callisha Johnson missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer, ending the game and sealing the 81-78 victory for Rio Grande.
The RedStorm (18-10, 7-9) extended their win streak to three games Saturday afternoon. The third game of the winning streak would not come as easy as the first two, however, as Rio Grande and Pikeville (12-16, 6-10) battled tooth and nail from start to finish.
Rio led for the majority of the game, but every time it began to pull away Pikeville would come charging back. The two teams traded punches all the way into the last two minutes of the game, in which Rio Grande found itself leading Pikeville 79-76 with 1:48 remaining.
Two Pikeville free throws would cut the deficit to one before a pair of Bears misses along with Thomas’s free throws put a cap on the game.
For the second straight game, sophomore forward Sarah Bonar led the RedStorm in the scoring column. She finished with a game-high 21 points and Thomas was right behind her with 20.
“Sarah Bonar is really our hardnosed worker,” Bias said. “She puts on her hardhat, grabs her lunch pale and just goes to work.”
Pikeville was led by its usual offensive catalysts. Johnson finished with a team-high 19 points and Khalilah Quigley added 18.
The RedStorm now find themselves in sole possession of sixth place in the Mid-South Conference with two games remaining. The win streak has catapulted Rio Grande from ninth place in the MSC to sixth. Bias has seen a definite change in his team’s attitude during the streak.
“After winning a lot of games at the start of this season we thought that maybe they had lost they hunger for victory,” Bias said. “So we asked them, ‘Do you want it?’ And maybe they took it as a slap in the face because they have proved to us that they do.”