Historic night from YSU’s Brandi Brown keeps women’s hoops reeling

Andrew Smith, Contributing Writer

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From the scoreboard to the bleachers and over the public address system, Youngstown State forward Brandi Brown’s name and number could be seen and heard all over Beeghly Center Saturday afternoon.

It was “Brandi Brown Appreciation Day” at YSU (20-7, 10-4), and Wright State (11-17, 5-10) had a front row seat for an all-time best performance from Brown, who notched a career-high 42 points and 21 rebounds en route to a 64-54 win over WSU. Two days earlier against UIC, Brown set a career high with 39 points in a win over the Flames.

“We’ve always done a good job on her (Brown), but today she really played with a purpose,” Bradbury said. “She was very active, and she hit some threes early that kind of excited her a little bit, I think, and she was a load the rest of the way.”

WSU held Brown to 16 points and 10 rebounds the teams met on Feb. 3, but she outscored and nearly out-rebounded the entire Raiders team by halftime Saturday. The Penguins held a 14-point lead and had the Raiders reeling as WSU shot 29 percent from the field.

Brown’s physical presence forced the Raiders on their heels from the opening tip. If the Horizon League’s rebounding leader wasn’t controlling the boards, she was connecting from distance, scoring in the paint and putting a gang of WSU defenders into foul trouble.

Brown made 18 trips to the foul line, something Bradbury wanted his team to limit.

“She got herself to the free throw line and we very rarely let her get to the free throw line, and that’s one big thing that really hurt us today,” Bradbury said.

The Raiders narrowed the Penguins lead to six with a 10-2 run, fueled by three straight KC Elkins jumpers to begin the half. WSU wouldn’t pull any closer, and after the YSU lead swelled to 15 following another Brown three-pointer, Bradbury called timeout to organize a comeback effort that ultimately fell short.

Ivory James matched her career-high in points against the Penguins with 22. KC Elkins followed with 14 points, five rebounds and six assists. Kim Demmings scored 11 points on an off shooting night, while Breanna Stucke was held scoreless for the first time all year.

Though Bradbury thought the Raiders were prepared, the third-year coach acknowledged the Penguins took WSU out of its comfort zone.

“We were good in practice yesterday and we were good during shoot around this morning, Bradbury said. “I don’t think we were tired. I don’t think it was anything. I think I give them a lot of credit. They’re hard to play against. They are very good defensively. They switch everything and they really make you stay on the perimeter, and they make you non-aggressive.”

Seeding in the upcoming Horizon League Women’s Championship is up in the air. WSU, who’s dropped seven of their last eight games, remains in seventh place heading into their final game of the regular season against sixth place Cleveland State. A Raiders win moves WSU into sixth place in the conference, with the possibility of reaching fifth if UIC stumbles in its two remaining games. A loss means WSU would have to play its way into the second round of the tournament.

Tipoff for the Thursday game between the Raiders and Vikings at the Nutter Center is set for 7 p.m.

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