Women’s Basketball: Sharp-shooting Raiders hold off Golden Grizzlies

Andrew Smith, Sports Editor

Against most teams, when the Wright State women’s basketball team jumps out to a 21-point lead, the opposition rarely gets close enough to make a game of it.

Instead of coasting to a comfortable win, the Raiders had to match the fiesty Golden Grizzlies blow for blow and shot for shot in the second half.

The Raiders shot over 56 percent from the field in the second half and four starters finished in double-figures as WSU remained unbeaten in Horizon League play with a 94-85 win over Oakland Wednesday night.

Ivory James led the Raiders with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Tay’ler Mingo added 19 points and 10 assists.

After two games where WSU struggled to hit on most of the open looks it got, the Raiders drew more net than iron against OU.

Kim Demmings shoots over the Oakland defense Wednesday night at the Nutter Center.

The offense began clicking with just over eight minutes left in the first half. Golden Grizzlies guard Victoria Lipscomb’s jumper tied the game at 20-20 with 8:19 remaining. The Raiders responded with a 22-8 Raiders’ run and led 42-28 at halftime.

Less than three minutes after halftime, WSU led 53-32, but OU would not go quietly. The Golden Grizzlies clawed to within seven when forward Bethany Watterworth hit her third 3-pointer of the game. Moments later, James and Kim Demmings answered with consecutive jumpers to extend the lead back to 12 with less than two minutes to play.

“It’s nice to have people step up at different times,” James said.

Watterworth and guard Elena Popkey combined for 33 points in the second half, including 17 for Watterworth. Both Watterworth and forward Olivia Nash (11 points and 11 rebounds) presented defensive challenges for WSU with their ability to score in the paint and from distance. Watterworth and Nash combined to five 3s in the game.

“The funny thing is, I was talking about this in practice the other day and I specifically said that most of the people we play are bigger, so it’s hard to adjust when in the first 16 games we’ve played, it’s been…you have to get in front, you have to stay lower than them, and now your back is to the basket and you got to keep them in front of you,” said Tayler Stanton, who was matched up on Watterworth for most of the night. “It was very difficult for me.”

In her battle with Watterworth, Stanton notched 15 points and 6 rebounds.

Down the stretch, defending OU’s versatile big players became even tougher when fatigue started to set in. Bradbury said his players started to feel the effects of a rigorous practice schedule that did not stop even during the bitterly cold temperatures on Monday and Tuesday that closed down the campus for two days.

“We haven’t had a day off in two weeks. Our schedule has been very unrelenting. We’ve always just had to play, then you couldn’t take a day off, you had to prepare [because] there’s a game in three days. And it’s been like that basically since Christmas break. So we haven’t had a day off and I think we were tired.”

“Oakland is very good and they score. When they get open shots, they’re going to make ‘em. They made a big run at us and I’m proud of our team for kind of weathering the storm and finishing the game,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury said the team will rest on Thursday before preparing for its next opponent on Friday and Saturday.

The Raiders (2-0, 13-4) will host Cleveland State on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

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