Women’s Basketball: Raiders suffocate Penguins, clinch No.2 seed in HL Tournament

Andrew Smith, Sports Editor

Minutes before boarding the team bus, Raiders guard Kim Demmings took a moment to quote the legendary singer Frank Sinatra.

“There’s always room for improvement, so there’s always room to get better. The best, probably, is yet to come,” Demmings said.

Needing a win to lock up the No.2 seed in the Horizon League Tournament, the Raiders produced one of their best games of the season, stifling Youngstown State with constant ball pressure, forcing 19 turnovers and using a dominant first half to blow out the Penguins 85-70 Wednesday night.

Kim Demmings drives through traffic against Youngstown State Wednesday night at the Beeghly Center.

Demmings co-led WSU with 22 points, adding eight rebounds and six steals. Tay’ler Mingo added 22 points of her own and six assists. Ivory James and Tay’ler Stanton scored 16 and 10, respectively.

The Raiders raced out to a 17-point lead with just over six minutes before halftime and carried a 44-25 lead into the break. WSU turned 13 Penguins turnovers into 15 points and shot 50 percent from the floor.

“I thought we were really engaged, we played really hard and we turned them over a couple of times, which we always need to do. That kind of separated [the score] a little bit,” Raiders head coach Mike Bradbury said. “We shot [the ball] extremely well. They (YSU) missed some open shots and they didn’t play their best game.”

WSU did not relent in the second half and maintained a lead of 16 points or more until the 5:59-mark, despite YSU making up for a dismal shooting effort in the first half and hit 17-of-35 shots down the stretch.

“We knew they were going to shoot the ball better in the second half, so to answer them…we just wanted to keep pushing the ball and getting quick shots right back at them, hopefully tiring them out,” Mingo said. “We were able to run our offense and keep our lead.”

Forward Heidi Schlegel led the Penguins with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

Against the Penguins, the Raiders collected 14 steals and forced 19 turnovers – scoring 21 points off of YSU miscues – in an 85-70 win.

The Raiders received added scoring help from Courtney Boyd in the first half. Boyd notched eight points in 16 minutes in relief of KC Elkins, who was saddled with two early fouls.

“She (Boyd) was really good in the first half and we needed her,” Bradbury said. “KC was in foul trouble. We lean on KC. We play her a lot of minutes because she kind of keeps us together out there. Courtney Boyd was really good on both ends.”

WSU (22-8, 11-4) will finish out the regular season at home on Saturday against Valparaiso at 2 p.m. For the Raiders to earn the top seed in the Horizon League Tournament, WSU will need to defeat Valpo and have Green Bay falter at home tomorrow night against Oakland and Saturday against Detroit.

The Phoenix own the tiebreaker over the Raiders after completing the sweep of WSU on Feb. 27.

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