It’s always a good day to get the chance to see the Wright State women’s basketball, and this writer was able to finally make it into the Nutter Center for the chance to see the Raiders in action. The Raiders’ non-conference was almost entirely away games in much bigger stadiums, and conference action is always more exciting anyways. The Wright State Raiders played their home match against the Green Bay Phoenix (10-3), a longtime juggernaut of the conference underneath the coaching of Kevin Borseth. After taking a loss to Milwaukee in conference play, the Phoenix have been on an expected torrid streak through their conference opponents and would provide a hefty challenge for the Raiders to overcome.
The match started well for the Raiders, making every shot contested and difficult for the Phoenix. There was only one problem – they couldn’t miss. After being a perfect 7-7 by the first media timeout, the Raiders were down 16-6 early and it looked like Green Bay was going to flex their superior shooting and lock down the Raiders as usual on defense, as the only good looks the Raiders were getting came from outside.
But then the dynamic changed. The defense clamped down and forced Green Bay to make mistakes, turning over the ball underneath over and over. With those extra chances came extra shots from the arc from the likes of Bolender and Chapman, and the Raiders battled their deficit to 4 by the halfway mark of the 2nd. After Green Bay fought back for a little and put the lead back in their favor comfortably, Isabelle Bolender beat the buzzer at halftime to make the game 36-26.
Green Bay’s Kondrakiewicz was the MVP of the half putting up 11 points, followed by Chapman of the Raiders at 8. The Raiders spent almost the whole half trying to float three pointers in, as Miller and Nixon were held scoreless by the Phoenix defense. With Green Bay sitting at a 59% FG% and Wright State at 39%, the main difference for the next half was going to be whoever could control the ball and the rebound better.
The Phoenix took an early advantage in the third quarter on some foul calls against the Raiders, but then Nixon and Baumhower sparked to life, bouncing in 14 points to put the Raiders within one possession of Green Bay for the first time since the beginning of the game. Going into the fourth quarter at 51-45, the game felt wide open for anyone to take, especially this scrappy Wright State team that capitalized on Phoenix mistakes.
The Cinderella story struck midnight however. After the Raiders’ Lauren Scott put up two clutch three pointers to keep Green Bay within striking distance, the team went the final seven and a half minutes without another score and ran out of gas on defense, allowing the Phoenix to score 20 in the quarter in a pure boat race. The final score of 72-51 makes this stellar game seem like a beatdown, which is such a shame and doesn’t display the fight that Wright State put in to take down the Green Bay juggernaut.
The Raiders had one lone scorer in the double digits, Baumhower, with Scott, Chapman, Bolender, and Nixon all scraping against the threshold. The Phoenix finished with four double digit scorers, led by the trio of Butler, Kondrakiewicz, and Levy who scored 45 total.
As has been the case for the season so far, Wright State lacked rebounding presence and it cost them dearly in this game. Green Bay had 16 offensive rebounds and was able to turn most of these into points because their presence in the paint is simply stronger. The rebounding margin was an astonishing -26 for the Raiders.
Wright State still stands without a Division I win so far, but will get another opportunity to take that step against Milwaukee on Saturday, January 7th at 1:00 pm. The Panthers (5-8) are currently 3-2 in the conference after losing a narrow contest to Northern Kentucky.