Women’s Basketball: Raiders score most in 27 years in win over Flames
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About halfway through the second half of Saturday’s game between Illinois-Chicago and Wright State, Raiders head coach Mike Bradbury pulled a move out of Billy Donlon’s playbook and removed his suit jacket.
It was another back-and-forth conference battle in the Horizon League and until the final moments, Bradbury could not coach comfortably.
WSU scored a season high 103 points and held off UIC 103-91 at the Nutter Center to stay in contention for first place in the Horizon League. Saturday marked the highest scoring output the Raiders have compiled since becoming a Division I school in 1987-88.
The win allowed the Raiders to keep pace in a competitive battle for the No.1 seed in the Horizon League Tournament in March. WSU (18-7, 7-3) entered the day one game back of first place Green Bay and half a game behind Cleveland State in the win column.
Since becoming head coach of the Raiders for the 2010-11 season, Bradbury said he does not remember the conference ever having more depth than it does now.
“This is by far the best, from top to bottom, this league has been in my four years,” Bradbury said. “You hear coaches say, ‘There’s no night off,’ and all that, but really, there usually is one. I’m telling you, man, it’s an absolute war out there every single game.”
Kim Demmings lead the Raiders with 31 points. Tay’ler Mingo nearly completed a triple-double. The junior transfer from Florida State finished with 25 points – 20 in the second half – nine assists and six rebounds. Ivory James added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
In order to win, the Raiders had to survive a career performance from UIC forward Ruvanna Campbell. Campbell scored a career-high 30 points and collected a game-high 18 rebounds.
“She’s so good…she cannot be guarded by just one person,” Bradbury said. “They key to her is you have to try and limit her touches, which we didn’t do a very good job of today. She pounded us. You have to keep [the ball] out of her hands. Once she gets it, she’s difficult to stop from doing anything. She’s a good player.”
The Raiders were able to keep pace with the Flames in paint thanks to a consistent effort to drive the ball to the basket. WSU matched UIC with 42 points in the paint and kept the Flames in foul trouble for most of the second half.
“We knew that they got into a lot of foul trouble early, so I felt like our mentality changed,” Demmings said. “We stopped settling for just jump shots. We knew we could get into the paint and get some layups, so that’s what I feel like we started doing in the second half.”
Flames guard Rachel Story fouled out with 1:57 remaining when she was called for an offensive foul. Moments later, swing forward Gisselle Truiett received her fifth foul, allowing Demmings to sink a pair of free throws that extended the Raiders’ lead to 96-89.
WSU was without its front court mainstay Tayler Stanton against UIC. Stanton was injured in practice Tuesday during a collision on a fast break drill. She took part in pregame warm-ups, assisting her teammates with layups, dressed in a grey sweatshirt and sweatpants.
Bradbury tabbed senior Ja’Monica Orton in Stanton’s place. Orton played 18 minutes Saturday, scoring four points to go along with six rebounds.
“I think that when we have injuries, we try not to skip a beat. That’s what we expected out of Ja’Monica. Ja’Monica is a very good player. There was no difference between her and Tayler [Stanton] and that’s what our team allows us to do. We sub and we don’t lost momentum,” said KC Elkins, who lead the Raiders with 14 points at halftime.
Bradbury did not say whether Stanton would be available for WSU’s next game or if Orton would be starting in her place.
The Raiders will travel to Oakland Tuesday for a rematch with the Golden Grizzlies at the O’rena at 7 p.m. WSU defeated OU 94-85 on Jan. 8.