IU Southeast Falls to Rio Grande in Battle for First in the KIAC

Elijah Lossner, Sports Editor

 

The top two women’s teams in the KIAC squared off Tuesday night in the Activities Building, for sole possession of first place. The game was back and forth most of the night before the Red Storm, from the University of Rio Grande, pulled away at the end beating the Grenadiers 71-59.

Defense and the Red Storm’s senior point guard, Brianna Thomas, were the difference. Thomas led all scorers with 25 points on 7-16 shooting and was 9-9 from the strike. She also had seven of the Red Storm’s 13 steals. Rio Grande also scored 21 points off of 19 Grenadier turnovers.

Much of the offensive struggles were due in part to the Rio Grande zone defense.

“The zone took away the penetration,” head coach Robin Farris said. “Their bigger than us so when you throw it inside it’s hard to score.”

The Grenadiers started the game off with a three pointer and stayed ahead until halfway through the first half when the Red Storm took their first lead 18-17.

Back-to-back three’s by senior guard, Megan Cureton, and freshman forward, Riley Kaiser gave the lead right back to the Grenadiers 23-18.

The Red Storm then went on a 10-0 run to push the lead back to five where it stayed much of the rest of the half.

Just before the half ended, the Grenadiers forced a turnover while Rio Grande was trying to hold the ball for the last shot. Sophomore guard, Emily Clayton got the steal and found senior guard, Heather Wheat for an easy layup as time expired. Rio Grande took a 35-33 lead in to halftime.

The second half began just the way the first ended, with a steal by Wheat who passed it to Cureton for the bucket tying the game at 35-35.

The game stayed close most of the second half before Rio Grande began to pull away.

The dagger came at about the five minute mark after a Red Storm steal and fast break that resulted in a three-point play pushing the lead to 61-51. The largest lead of the game.

IU Southeast failed to get any closer as the scoreboard read 71-59 when the final buzzer sounded.

Senior guard, Heather Wheat attempts a three-pointer against Rio Grande in their 71-59 loss Tuesday night. Wheat averages 18.6 points a game.

Senior guard, Heather Wheat attempts a three-pointer against Rio Grande in their 71-59 loss Tuesday night. Wheat averages 18.6 points a game.

Farris said he expects to see a lot of zone the rest of the season.

“You have to get some kind of penetration against a zone, either dribble penetration or getting it in and then back out, or just getting it in and getting to the foul line,” Farris said.

Cureton, who led her team with 21 points, echoed her coaches’ thoughts on what the team needs to improve on looking ahead as the KIAC tournament approaches.

“When they play a 2-3 zone, it would probably be best if we would dribble more and attack it, instead of passing and relying on three’s,” Cureton said.

The Grenadiers junior forward, Mary Dye did provide a bright spot for IU Southeast on the stat sheet at least. She recorded her fifth double-double of the season scoring 10 points and pulling down a game high 12 rebounds.

The Grenadiers overall record is now 16-8, 7-3 in the conference. That puts them in second place behind Rio Grande who pushed their record to 19-6 overall, 8-1 in the conference.

Next up for IU Southeast will be Saturday, Feb. 7 at Midway College. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. They turn right around and come back home on Sunday, Feb. 8 to host Oakland City in the Activities Building. That tip is set for 2 p.m.