Dissapointing season ends for women’s hoops with loss to Detroit
The women’s basketball team’s postseason itinerary began with a trip north to Calihan Hall Wednesday, with hopes of making a journey to the Kress Center in Green Bay two days later.
When the Raiders returned home Wednesday night, their travel plans had ended for the season. WSU’s bid to salvage a disappointing season was dashed as the fifth-seeded Raiders (12-18, 6-10) lost to the fourth-seeded Titans (17-13, 9-7) 72-56 in the Horizon League Tournament quarterfinals in Detroit. The loss marked the second consecutive year the Titans have sent the Raiders home in the conference tournament.
“Unfortunately you never like this day, but it’s here [and] it’s over,” head coach Mike Bradbury said. “It’s the earliest I have not been playing basketball in a long, long time, and hopefully it won’t happen anymore, but it’s very disappointing.”
Despite the loss, Kayla Lamotte found solace in the effort her teammates put forth.
“I think our effort was really good and I think we played hard, but we just couldn’t hit a few key shots and we had a few serious defensive breakdowns,” Lamotte said.
Kim Demmings led WSU with 16 points while Breanna Stucke scored 15 and Tayler Stanton, who was hampered with foul trouble in the second half, added 12.
Powered by forward Shareta Brown and guard Demeisha Fambro, the Titans had an effective inside-outside attack against the Raiders. When Brown wasn’t facing one, two or sometimes three defenders, Fambro was punishing WSU from the perimeter, knocking down a career-high seven three-pointers.
WSU came out of halftime trailing by only five despite shooting under 29 percent. The Raiders were able to keep the Titans within reach thanks in part to a turnover and offensive rebound advantage. A Tayler Stanton tip-in pulled WSU to within six with over five and a half minutes remaining in the game.
“We tried to attack the basket off the dribble and throw it in to Tayler (Stanton),” Bradbury said. “Tayler had some success in there, and for the most part we got good shots. The biggest problem was we did not shoot it very well. I thought we got as good of shots as they got, but they (Detroit) just made more of them.”
But Fambro delivered the final dagger of the game when her three-pointer banged home, giving her a season-high 23 points and Detroit a 12-point lead.
As the Raiders tried to make sense of the defeat, Titans head coach Autumn Rademacher was equally stunned by Fambro’s performance.
“She made seven? Get out of town. Wow,” Rademacher said.
“Fambro had a great game,” Bradbury said. “We could have guarded her if that was the game plan, but you just kind of pick your poison there. You hope she doesn’t make them. And you know what? She did.”
The game plan was designed to keep Brown under wraps. But the 6’1″ sophomore, who was named to the All-Horizon League First Team, had other ideas and scored the majority of her game-high 25 points near the low block. Brown made 10 of her 11 shot attempts (90.9 percent), setting a Horizon League Tournament record for field goal percentage in a single game.
Bradbury noted getting the ball away from Brown was critical to keeping her scoring in check.
“The most difficult thing is defending Shareta Brown,” Bradbury said. “You have to try to limit her touches, which we did a pretty good job of. She only got eleven shots. Unfortunately, she made [almost] all of them. If you wanted to keep them from shooting threes, that’s easy, but Brown may get 50 [points].”
WSU now begins the journey toward recovery following a season that fell short of expectations and one marred by injuries. In Bradbury’s first two seasons, the Raiders won 20-plus games and completed conference play with double-digit victories.
ACL injuries to sophomore Mylan Woods and junior Courtney Boyd early this season left the Raiders vulnerable and shorthanded on the bench. Even roster mainstays Demmings, Stanton and Ivory James missed time throughout the year with various ailments. On many nights, WSU was forced to play a smaller lineup which relied heavily on three-point shooting.
“Overall, I felt like we were dealt some blows from the beginning when we lost a few players,” Bradbury said. “But we played with what we got and I felt like that’s what we did. We had a tough schedule and losing a couple of players hurt, but we still played. We definitely responded.”
There were bright spots for the team. Demmings was named to the All-Horizon League second team on March 11 and Ivory James was awarded Newcomer of the Year.
One thing Bradbury says his team taught him was focusing on what it took to improve each day.
“It became less about results and the end prize as it did the process, and I think that helped us get through some tough times,” Bradbury said.
The Raiders will waste little time preparing for next year: After team meetings on Monday, Bradbury says day one of the 2013-14 season will begin on March 25.