Women’s Basketball: Elkins’ record 10 3-pointers, career-high 37, help Raiders sweep Crusaders in season finale
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Saturday’s game against Valparaiso marked the last regular season game senior guard KC Elkins would ever play in the Nutter Center and when game clock read triple zeroes, the 531 fans in attendance knew she saved her best for almost last.
Elkins scored a career-high 37 points, including school-record 10 3-pointers, as Wright State used a late second-half outburst to rout Valparaiso 101-80 on Senior Day.
When reflecting on her performance after the win, Elkins remained humble and said her teammates made her record performance possible.
“My team was behind me and they wanted for me to have a good game,” Elkins said. “They passed me the ball when I was open. All the credit goes to them. We’re a team and every step of the way they’re right beside me. It felt really good for them. I was doing it for them.”
Added Elkins: “When you’re on, you’re on. That’s how I felt today.”
When asked about Elkins’ day, Raiders head coach Mike Bradbury could only grin, before putting Saturday’s game into perspective with her career at WSU.
“Here’s the thing: obviously she was tremendous today, that’s easy to see. But most importantly, this kid has kind of done it…like you did in the old-school days,” Bradbury said. “[She] played a little bit as a freshman, a little bit more as a sophomore, started as a junior and started as a senior. She’s earned it. I promise you…nothing has been given to her.”
Elkins led all scorers at halftime with 17 and was 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Her long-distance shots came at much needed times.
With 7:38 left before halftime, and the Raiders clinging to a 23-21 lead, Elkins hit her second 3-pointer to push WSU’s lead back to five. Minutes later, Elkins’ third 3-pointer extended the Raiders lead to 34-27. With under a minute left in the first half, her fifth trey gave the Raiders their biggest lead of the game at 44-30.
Valpo continued to hang with WSU deep into the second half. Following a pair of Tayler Stanton free throws, Crusaders forward Liz Horton cut the Raiders’ lead down to 57-54 with 12:31 left.
The Raiders responded with a 12-2 run in a 3:18 span, capped off with Elkins’ sixth three-pointer – a shot that set the stage for the senior’s culminating moment.
After Valpo guard Jessica Carr brought the Crusaders back to within 11, Elkins drilled two more threes in a 20-second span, tying her previous career-best of eight threes in the process. Just over a minute later, Elkins delivered the dagger with her ninth trey, then added a tenth, for good measure, with 2:48 left.
Bradbury took Elkins out of the game 14 seconds later to a standing ovation. She added four steals and four assists to her furious scoring output.
The Raiders hit on 15-of-36 3-pointers as team, tying a school record. Kim Demmings recorded a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists, including 16 points in the second half. Senior Ivory James added 15 and Tayler Stanton scored 11 with nine rebounds.
Elkins’ day became infectious late in the game. Courtney Boyd followed a missed shot with a three of her own off a Ja’Monica Orton rebound. Orton – who was also honored before the game with Elkins and James – then tried for a three herself, which missed. The senior forward came back on the next offensive possesion with a drive past Valpo’s Lexi Miller for a layup and a foul.
The Nutter Center crowd, accordingly, came to its feet, and most of the WSU bench players jumped out of their chairs.
“I always joke with KC [Elkins] and Bre[anna Stucke] that I want to be like them when I grow up, even though I’m older than both of them. I think everything that happened to me tonight…I had to earn it,” Orton said. “I took that with a lot of respect, bringing myself in and focusing myself in to try and get that bucket for my team.”
WSU (23-8, 12-4) proved again why it leads the nation in turnover differential. The Raiders forced 28 turnovers against the Crusaders and 44 points off Valpo’s miscues.
The Raiders have now won three straight games by an average of 20 points per game. Bradbury said he hopes his team’s upward trend continues.
“It’s always good to be confident, it’s always good to be playing well,” Bradbury said. “There’s never a time where that’s bad. Hopefully we can continue that.”
The Raiders will next turn their attention to Horizon League Tournament on March 12. WSU secured the No.2-seed with a win over Youngstown State on Wednesday night and will host Milwaukee, which held onto the 7-seed after Detroit and Valpo lost on Saturday.
WSU completed a sweep of UWM on March 1 with a 94-70 blowout win.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Nutter Center.