Women’s Basketball: Phoenix are the class of the Horizon League but Wright State is close
Thursday’s battle between Green Bay and Wright State was a titanic matchup between the classic powerhouse of the Horizon League versus the up-and-coming challenger.
If Thursday was any indicator, the Raiders might be on their way to becoming the new power of the Horizon League.
The all-time series between the two squads has been a bloodbath for the Raiders as Green Bay is 52-3 all time versus Wright State.
It has been over a decade since the Raiders have won the twice-annual matchup between the programs. Wright State head coach Mike Bradbury is 0-9 against Green Bay in his four-year tenure at WSU. But he could just have easily been 2-7 after this year’s matchups.
Just like Thursday’s 79-72 overtime, the Raiders took the Phoenix to the buzzer earlier in the year when WSU lost 69-67 in Green Bay. A few points here and a few points there, and the Raiders would have a two-game advantage in the Horizon League standings.
At the beginning of the season, Wright State head coach Mike Bradbury said that his team would have to catch up to Green Bay’s ability; not have Green Bay come to the Raiders’ level. After Thursday’s contest, Bradbury said he thinks his team has caught up in talent.
“But from a winning standpoint, we haven’t yet,” he said. “We have lost two close games to them. You can look at our record in games decided by five points or less, we are 23-9 in my career. We win these games.”
Green Bay has won at least a share of every Horizon League regular season title since 1997.
Green Bay coach Keith Borseth is in his second stint with the Phoenix after briefly coaching the University of Michigan’s program. He said that Bradbury is building a good program and fan base at Wright State.
“He is trying to build it, he is obviously bringing in the right kids,” Borseth said. “He has great caliber kids that the fans are coming out to support. That is what our league needs. We need good teams and good coaches and good players and fans will come out to support them.”
Bradbury said he told his players after Thursday’s contest that the game came down to someone having to lose.
“They’re good, we’re good,” Bradbury said. “You saw arguably the two best teams in the league out there battle to a tie. Somebody has to win. If we make one more free throw or one more basket, does it make us better and them worse? Both teams are pretty good.”
When Wright State took a nine-point lead in the first half, Borseth told his players to play tough. Playing tough was not something previous Green Bay squads had to do versus the Raiders in years past.
“Wright State gets right in your face and they make you play, they make you beat them,” Borseth said. “They don’t sit back and watch, they come out and attack. They play with a lot of heart and their kids get right after it and they forced us to play.”
Wright State guard Kim Demmings agreed with her coach that the Raiders are nearly even with the Phoenix.
“They’re tough but at the end of the day, we’re tough too,” Demmings said. “It was two tough teams going at it and as coach said, somebody had to lose. That is not the end of us, definitely not the end.
And with Green Bay in the catbird seat for another regular season league title, the Raiders are hoping to exact the perfect ending in the Horizon League Championships.