Horizon League play has officially begun for the women’s basketball teams, about a month earlier than the COVID season last year. For Wright State, this allows them to take a break from the non-conference tests to see what their early competition looks like, as Milwaukee and Green Bay both finished just behind them in the standings during Wright State’s marquee year. Milwaukee started their non-conference play with incredibly difficult matchups at Ball State, North Dakota State, and #16 Florida State that tested their mettle and gave them a 0-3 record to start the season. They look to prove that their record is nowhere close to indicative of the squad they will be putting out on their quest for another Horizon title.
Wright State started the game taking advantage of Milwaukee’s passing lanes, accumulating two steals in just under two minutes. However, shooting was absolutely cold, resulting in Milwaukee taking an early 13-2 lead off of Wright State making 1-8 in their shooting attempts. Coming out of the timeout and after multiple attempts to drain the ball from three, both teams attempted to drive the ball to the rim to Wright State’s success. After a full minute long possession off of multiple offensive rebounds, the score was 17-10 Milwaukee at the end of the 1st.
The second quarter saw the Raiders continue their thieving tactics as they collected more turnovers off of bad Milwaukee passing. Jada Roberson led the pack in the game with five total steals while the team made a total of 13. Besides this, the quarter was very quiet in scoring; no team had any good chances at fast breaks and a turnover-heavy quarter would prevent any team from making their presence known. At halftime, each time had only made 9 points a piece to bring the score to 26-19. Wright State went scoreless for four minutes to end the half.
The third quarter started as a grind with only 4 points made in first three minutes. Milwaukee could not find any good pathways inside the paint as most efforts to get to the rim ended in a steal or a stiff defensive effort by the interior guards. Off of a superior defensive effort in the third, the Raiders went and tied the game at 30-30 with three minutes left. However, those points would be the last the Raiders would get in the quarter as Milwaukee took full advantage of the Raiders’ foul trouble to earn a 40-30 lead at the end of the quarter.
Wright State was able to drag the deficit to 4 in the fourth quarter before another Milwaukee run off of a quick 5 points in ten seconds took away Wright State’s momentum. Milwaukee kept Wright State at arms length with their double digit lead and ended the game 58-47.
The Raiders were led by bench player Diamond Stokes, making 6-8 from the floor to land 12 points in 22 minutes of play. While the Raiders were phenomenal in grabbing steals from the floor, they were matched by an inability to convert a majority of those steals into points on the ground. Some costly mishandling of the ball resulted in the Raiders only managing a +2 turnover ratio. Milwaukee played a incredibly clean game, only acquiring five total fouls on the night to prevent any costly turnovers or free throws from ruining their night.
Both teams shot consistently on the floor when their possessions weren’t turned over, with the Raiders at 39% and Milwaukee at 47%. Wright State’s conversion at three continues to suffer as they went 3-16 from behind the arc, with most shots and conversions coming from Destyne Jackson. The Raiders do show a sturdy paint defense that continues to make paint points a battle to acquire, but Milwaukee was able to take increasingly contested shots that found the inside of the rim.
The Raiders continued Horizon play Saturday with a short bus trip to Green Bay, saying goodbye to the volleyball team that cheered them on while they awaited their tournament start. An unusually cursed matchup, Wright State is 66-7 all time against Green Bay, who usually performs at the same level as other national powerhouses under Kevin Borseth. Coach Hoffman looks to start her career against Green Bay with a win as they start on a brisk Saturday afternoon. Green Bay, on the other hand, is looking to stop a losing streak after losing to NKU off of a poor shooting performance.
Wright State started the quarter with two brilliantly placed three pointers by Jackson and KK White to take an early 8-3 lead. Then a scoring lull took over the Raiders as they went nearly six minutes without a score, allowing a 14-0 run for Green Bay. The Raiders would then only get within 3 of Green Bay as every Wright State point was immediately answered by the Phoenix. A late foul on a possession allows two free throws from Hailey Oskey, who puts the Phoenix up 27-18 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Raiders and the Phoenix traded points until another six minute drought took over the Raiders, putting Green Bay up for good. Green Bay’s 12-0 run gave the Phoenix a double digit lead that the Raiders could not crawl back from. Wright State had the highest scoring first half of the season with 32 points, but were unable to overcome Green Bay’s onslaught of 49 points.
Wright State’s strength lies in driving the rim, but most of the shots taken in the first half had been from the three point range. While this had some success, converting on four out of eleven attempts, the offense had slowed down the clock and did not fire as quickly as Green Bay had in that half as a result. This ended up being the undoing of the offense for the Raiders.
Methodical play began the third quarter as Wright State and Green Bay slowly jostled for position. Each team took its time to find an open selection and make shots where they could. Green Bay had a couple of moments of weakness that allowed the Raiders to cut the deficit to 53-44, but this was immediately followed by another lull by the Raiders as their shots bounced off the rim. By the end of the third, the game once again looked to be fully in Green Bay’s grasp with a 64-47 lead. Despite a late push in the fourth quarter to get into range, Green Bay successfully added to their win tally with a score of 78-67.
Four Raiders saw double digit points as the Raider offense had their best showing so far. With 45% shooting overall and 9-22 from three, this squad was able to successfully showcase its offensive talents and ability to spread points wherever they so choose. Where the Raiders struggled was with rebounds and free throws, shooting 14-22 from the line and getting out-rebounded by an 8 point margin. In particular, Green Bay’s second chance shots off of ten offensive rebounds were the turning point of the game.
The Raiders return home for their first contest in the Nutter Center against Xavier on Wednesday, November 24th. They will then travel to Marshall to take on the Herd on November 30th before restarting Horizon play again against Purdue Fort Wayne and Cleveland State.