Women’s Basketball: Demmings 28, strong bench play helps Raiders pull even with Penguins in HL standings
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Wright State head coach Mike Bradbury said in November that the least amount of stress he has ever felt as a coach was last season.
That year, the Raiders finished 12-18 overall and 6-10 in the Horizon League. When his team was losing games, there was little to worry about.
Wednesday afternoon, Bradbury admitted his stress level is now at a fever pitch.
In a pivotal game that featured the conference’s top two teams, the Raiders defeated the Penguins 93-81 at the Nutter Center. The win puts the Raiders in a three-way tie for first place with Youngstown State and Green Bay.
WSU (17-6, 6-2) has three days until a rematch with Cleveland State(10-11, 5-3) on Saturday – a team that handed the Raiders their worst home loss of the season on Jan. 12 in a 98-82 defeat to the Vikings.
“It’s high,” Bradbury said about his stress level as a coach this year. “Every game is important. Last year we couldn’t win. This is it. You want to play for something. We’re only halfway through [the conference schedule], but right now we are still playing for something.”
The Raiders’ leading scorer Kim Demmings was once again the team’s leading scorer against the Penguins and once again her usual dynamic self, finishing with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Fellow starter Ivory James added 21 and shot 50 percent from the field.
WSU’s hot shooting started early and carried the team during important stretches of the game. Trailing 41-34 late in the first half, James and forward Breanna Stucke hit consecutive 3-pointers to cut the YSU lead to one going into the locker room.
The game remained close into the late stages of the second half. With the Raiders leading 71-67, following the under eight minute media timeout, WSU began a 12-2 run, fueled by Stucke and James 3-pointers and a Demmings layup, that help put the game away.
Along with Stucke, the Raiders received an added boost from guard Abby Jump, who scored nine points in 16 minutes off the bench.
“Stuuuuuuucke,” Demmings said jokingly, mimicking Raiders’ public address announcer for WSU women’s basketball. “It’s definitely huge. Like I said, on any given day somebody can come out and go for 10 or 12 [points] and that’s what we need. People don’t know much about [Jump and Stucke]. They think they’re not doing much but just chillin’, so when they come out and do that, it shakes up other teams a little bit.”
Beating the best team in the conference by double-digits, following a taxing road schedule, would figure to be a natural confidence-booster for the Raiders. After the game, Demmings agreed that the victory over YSU was a statement win for her team, but added that the Raiders’ demeanor will not change much.
“Yeah, I think that we think it’s a statement win, but honestly, we just like to stay humble though,” Demmings said. “We prepare for each team one game at a time. We’re happy to win, but now we put this one behind us and move on. We’ve got more to play.”