Wright State women’s basketball (2-16, 1-7 HL) has been performing well. It may seem odd to say of a team with that win-loss record, but the team put on a comeback against Detroit Mercy in their own stadium to convincingly win their very first Division 1 match of the season and very nearly gave the higher-ranked Oakland a scare as well. They are very much a team that is constructed on extremes; their paint presence, both offensively and defensively unfortunately, is little to none, but they have been making their name in shots behind the arc. Being top 50 in the nation in 3FG% and top 10 in threes per game, the team is built to take advantage of their shooting prowess at the guard position. Having returned from the Michigan trip, Wright State now faces their toughest conference opponent at home: the nearly undefeated Cleveland State Vikings.
Cleveland State women’s basketball (16-2, 7-1 HL) is the exact opposite of this squad. The Vikings have known nothing but success and have been in the conversation for an at-large bid should they fail to attain the Horizon League’s bid in the tournament, a conversation that may have quieted down a little after their recent thumping by the Green Bay Phoenix at home. With the Horizon’s probable Player of the Year Destiny Leo at the helm and a forward duo that averages in the double digits in scoring, the Vikings were looking to rain down on a much smaller Wright State squad to wash the taste of the Green Bay loss out of their mouths.
The first quarter of the matchup set the tone early. After going shot for shot with the Vikings and earning 9 points from behind the arc, the Raiders allowed a couple of turnovers that Cleveland State immediately capitalized on.
After going up 18-9 by the media timeout, the Vikings turned on the gas and stretched their lead to 32-16 by the end of the 1st. During that space of time, Wright State’s defense allowed 4 offensive rebounds, got no turnovers, and let the Vikings score on all but two possessions, with one of those two possessions being a 0-2 free throw effort by forward Amele Ngwafang. 32 points in one quarter and about as close to perfect as you could get, Cleveland looked like the class of the Horizon they were expected to be.
“Our defense has been our nemesis the entire year,” Hoffman remarked with a chuckle. “And it’s something we continue to work on. In addition to that, it’s rebounding.”
The 2nd quarter brought more of the same; Cleveland State’s defense kept the Raiders firmly on the outside of the arc while they had room to move however they wished inside. Destiny Leo came to life and put up 15 of the Vikings’ 24 points. After the Raiders’ three point scoring went cold and only put 11 points on the board, the score was an abysmal 56-27 rout, with Destiny Leo putting up 23 by herself to pace the Raiders offense.
After the deficit grew to as much as 44 in the third, the Raiders found some life in their three point shooting. The 3rd and 4th quarters were decidedly different for the squad, using a five-out offense to tackle the interior zone of the Vikings, raining three after three upon receiving an open look and taking full advantage of the talent at the guard position.
“We tried a new offense against the zone… where they were staying in space but with passing so our players did a good job of mixing those together, trying to pass first and if they needed to puncture (the defense) they would do it later in the shot clock,” Hoffman said about the offensive plan, going on to talk about how this was a counter-play to the zone defense that Cleveland runs.
The Raiders controlled the narrative in the 4th quarter, holding Cleveland State to 13 points through an concerted effort force turnovers in the final minutes while putting up 22 to cut the deficit permanently. The offense was “trusting themselves a little more” according to Hoffman and it led to a high scoring performance against one of the best defenses in the Horizon. While the Raiders would go on to lose 103-72, there was a mark that was set that will remain in the history books with Coach Hoffman’s name attached: the single-game record for three pointers scored at 18.
“For us to make eighteen and break the school record, that was our plan going in and I’m proud of them for that,” Hoffman remarked about the 18-42 three point shot line. 18 three pointers shatters the previous school record of 15, a mark that was tied earlier in the season as well by Hoffman’s squad. Six Raiders put in three a piece to set this mark: Bolender, VanKempen, Scott, Baumhower, Nixon, and Chappell.
Lauren Scott led the Raiders with 15 points, joined by Bolender and Baumhower with 11 in the double digits. Destiny Leo on the Vikings scored 31 points overall, just shy of her career high in the WBI game against St. Bonaventure.
Wright State plays again against Purdue Fort Wayne at home on Sunday, January 22nd at 1:00pm. Hoffman will look to take what was learned from the Cleveland State game and try to turn it into a win against a similarly rebuilding Mastodon team.
“We’re hoping to build on our effort from the 4th quarter. Keep it going for the next match.”