Raiders look to continue selfless play in Horizon League semifinals

Wright State’s Angel Baker during last week’s Horizon League quarterfinal game vs. Oakland at the Nutter Center. Keith Cole/CONTRIBUTED

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Wright State’s Angel Baker during last week’s Horizon League quarterfinal game vs. Oakland at the Nutter Center. Keith Cole/CONTRIBUTED

Wright State coach Katrina Merriweather would certainly make room on her roster if another Kim Demmings, Tay’ler Mingo or Chelsea Welch came along. Those former Raiders combined for four Horizon League player of the year awards from 2014-18.

But all of them were high-volume shooters who were forced to carry too much of the scoring load. If they had an off night, the team didn’t have a back-up plan.

That’s why she likes the makeup of her current roster. Opponents can’t really figure out who the top scorers might be because even the Raiders don’t know until the game unfolds.

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“We’ve had players in the past that were really, really good, but I think that made it very easy for teams to make a decision (defensively). You either let them score all the points and stop everybody else, or you try to shut down that one player and make the other ones step up,” she said.

“Neither one of those is an option against us. You’ve kind of got to guard everybody, and that’s something we’ve been able to take advantage of.”

The Raiders (25-6), who won their first outright league title this season, have plenty of polished players but don’t have anyone averaging more than 11.8 points, which is indicative of how willing they are to share the ball.

Eight different players have led the team in scoring at least once this season. Taylor Mackenzie has done it 10 times, including twice as the co-leader, while Michal Miller has had seven games as the top point producer, Emily Vogelpohl five, Angel Baker five, Symone Simmons two, Tyler Frierson two, Imani Partlow one and Anisja Harris one.

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Demmings, Mingo and Welch took between 557 and 669 shots in their award-winning seasons, but the Raiders’ leader in field-goal tries this season is Miller with 389, while eight others have at least 106 attempts.

“What that says about them is they’re very selfless,” Merriweather said. “We have a team that cares about winning more than their individual accomplishments.”

The Raiders hope their team-first approach will keep paying off as they try to capture the league tourney title and reach the NCAAs for the second time in program history.

They’re the No. 1 seed and face fourth-seeded IUPUI (20-10) in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Monday at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.

Second-seeded Green Bay (21-8) plays third-seeded Youngstown State (22-8) in the other semi at 3:30. The title game is at noon Tuesday on ESPNU.

The Raiders made the WNIT the last two seasons under Merriweather. And while those postseason trips were gratifying, the third-year coach said: “We’re very, very hungry to do something different than what we’ve done in the past.”

Having joined the staff in 2010, Merriweather has been wearing her gaudy 2014 tourney championship ring all season, as has assistant Abby Jump, who was a key sub on that team.

Demmings, who led that squad in scoring, also is on the staff.

“That was intentional — to bring back champions and to get that feel,” Merriweather said.

“Winners beget winning. That’s something we felt really strongly about, and we have some really hungry seniors. Our newcomers are phenomenal. Everyone has accepted their roles and are trying to make sure we do something special.”


MONDAY’S GAME

Wright State vs. IUPUI, 1 p.m., ESPN+

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