Women’s hoops short on consistency ahead of conference tournament

Andrew Smith, Contributing Writer

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The troubling times continue for the WSU women’s basketball team.

WSU lost to Loyola (10-13, 5-5) at the Nutter Center Saturday night. The loss is the fourth straight and seventh in the last 10 for the Raiders, who are winless in February and left searching for answers. After the game, WSU (10-14, 4-7) fell to sixth place in the Horizon League standings.

Head coach Mike Bradbury considers the loss to be a barometer of mental toughness for his team.

“It’s going to test us,” Bradbury said. “I like our kids, I like our team and I think we’ll hang in there, but this is some trying times right now. You have to get a reward every now and again or it becomes harder to put the effort in. We need to keep working hard and hopefully we’ll get rewarded for it one day.”

The Raiders opened the game on an 11-2 run, which the Ramblers answered with a 24-7 run of their own. But WSU rallied and tied the game at 35 going into halftime.

Loyola forward Simone Law did the majority of her damage in the first half, where she scored 18 of her game-high 24 points. But the second half belonged to Ramblers guard Taylor Johnson, who scored 18 of her 23 points after intermission.

“For I’m going to say 25 minutes of the game, we were playing well and playing the right way, and then we went through about a four or five minute stretch where we missed a lot of easy shots and we let that affect our defense,” Bradbury said. “I thought that was the biggest difference.”

Bradbury, who is normally outspoken against officials, was thrown out of the game with 4:41 remaining for arguing a call. The ejection came during a 30-second timeout by WSU, and Bradbury was not immediately he had been tossed.

As a result of the ejection, the Horizon League suspended Bradbury one game.

For the second straight game and fourth time this season, four Raiders players finished in double-figures, led by 19 points and 11 rebounds from Kim Demmings and a career-high 18 points from Breanna Stucke. Ivory James returned from injury and had 12 points. KC Elkins added 10 points and nine rebounds.

During WSU’s current losing streak, the second half rims have been unkind. In the last four games, WSU has seen its field goal percentage dip from 39.6 percent in the first half to 31.2 percent in the second half. The Raiders have also been outscored 165-121 after halftime during that streak.

Though the Raiders may be reeling from recent defeats, Brianna Innocent and Elkins believe there is still plenty of time to turn things around.

“We just [need to] keep a short memory,” Innocent said. “If we lose, we have to shake it off and prepare for the next game as best we can, and just keep our heads up. We’ve just got to stick together, and I think we’re going to be fine.”

WSU will continue its Horizon League road trip in Chicago against UIC on Thursday at 8 p.m. The Raiders beat UIC 59-51 on Jan. 24 in Fairborn and hope the rematch will spur a winning end to the season.

“I think we just need to keep playing, and the important part is not to give up,” Elkins said. “These are important five games we have left, so [we] need to keep pushing and keep practicing like we have been.”

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