Big win gives women’s hoops momentum for tonight’s Horizon League quarterfinal

Andrew Smith, Contributing Writer

Kim Demmings dazzled the Nutter Center crowd with her play. On the bench, head coach Mike Bradbury clapped in approval, guard Abby Jump high-fived teammates and forward Brianna Innocent danced during a media timeout.

Wright State overwhelmed Cleveland State 61-53 in the final game of the regular season for both teams. WSU improved to 6-10 in conference play and avoided the possibility of having to come back to Fairborn Monday night to play a first round Horizon League Tournament game.

“We played really, really hard,” Bradbury said. “This is the best we’ve been all year in any game defensively. And how that came about was we played really hard, and we followed the plan. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s as close to it as we’ve been all year. We’ve got six players, and we battled through there and we competed at a high level today.”

Bradbury said the win over CSU was one of the most complete defensive efforts from his team this season.

That defensive effort was led by Kayla Lamotte, who had the unenviable task of guarding Vikings’ standout and Horizon League leading scorer Shalonda Winton, who averaged 22.3 points per game going into the game. WSU held Winton to 15 points on four of 17 shooting from the field.

“Kayla Lamotte played the best game she has played since she has been at Wright State,” Bradbury said.
“Shalonda Winton is one of the top three kids in the conference, and Kayla did a tremendous job on her. She (Lamotte) fronted her (Winton) down in the post, which was a completely different game plan than we had up there, and Kayla did that really well.”

Bradbury also said that Lamotte had “probably her best offensive game of the year, too.” Lamotte shot three for five and scored all nine of her points from behind the arc.

After a sloppy beginning for both teams—one that saw the Raiders make one field goal in the opening 10:32 and trail 12-5—WSU went on a 22-4 run spurred by an acrobatic Demmings three-pointer which banked in as the shot clock expired. WSU went into the locker room with a seven point lead, and less than five minutes into the second half the Raiders’ advantage ballooned to 16.

One month earlier at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, WSU held a 19-point advantage over CSU three minutes before halftime, only to watch the Vikings’ slowly cut away at the deficit after the break and pull out a five-point win. CSU switched to a zone defense and forced WSU to beat them from the outside. The Raiders shot 25 percent from three in the second half, while the Vikings connected on 13 of 29 from the field, including six of 11 from long range.

Thursday night was WSU’s turn to have fun at their opponent’s expense.

Demmings lead all scorers with 20 points and added 10 assists. Breanna Stucke bounced back from a scoreless outing against Youngstown State with 11 points and 7 rebounds, and hit all five of her field goal attempts. Ivory James scored 12 points and KC Elkins had seven points and eight rebounds after a quiet first half.

Bradbury said he and his coaching staff implemented “two new zone offenses just for this game.”

“We went up there last time, got a big lead, and they went zone and we stood around,” Bradbury said. “And today…they went zone and instead of us standing around, we moved the ball and we cut hard.”

WSU now turns its attention to Detroit in tonight’s quarterfinals matchup of the Horizon League Tournament. The Raiders lost both games to the Titans during conference play, including a 73-66 defeat in Detroit on Feb. 13.

WSU earned the #5 seed in the conference tournament after the cloudy standings were finalized on the last day of the regular season Saturday.

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