- By John Cummings Contributing Writer
Wright State University women’s basketball coach Katrina Merriweather saw it coming.
The Raiders had been able to pull out wins despite not playing their best. That caught up with them Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t play well two games ago and I knew this was going to happen if we didn’t become more efficient,” Merriweather said. “When you play a better team you have to have less mistakes or they are going to get you.”
IUPUI – the new kid on the Horizon League block – did just that, holding off a furious Raider rally down the stretch for a 64-61 win to remain tied with Green Bay atop the standings.
The loss drops Wright State to 15-5 overall and 6-2 in the league.
IUPUI was in control with 8:11 remaining and a 60-47 advantage, but the Raiders went on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to 60-59 with 3:46 remaining.
Emily Vogelpohl (16 points) started and ended the run with a jumper and a three pointer, the latter coming with 3:46 remaining.
Wright State, however, couldn’t cash in on the go-ahead basket and IUPUI pushed the lead to 63-59 with 1:36 remaining.
“It is definitely a humbling experience,” said WSU’s Chelsea Welch, who finished with 13 points. “We are going to use it as a learning experience.
“We are in a slump and they are a good team that took advantage of that slump. We’ve got to go back to playing the way we know how to play.”
IUPUI led most of the game after back-to-back baskets by Welch gave the Raiders a 22-21 lead after the first quarter.
Wright State hit just 27-percent from the floor in the second quarter and 25-percent in the third quarter as IUPUI took a 39-33 lead at the break and a 53-42 lead into the final quarter.
“The best thing we do on offense is in transition,” Merriweather said. “Get the ball in Chelsea’s hands and let her make the decisions.
“I’ve said all along they were one of the top three teams in the league and they are very efficient.”
IUPUI shot 51 percent for the game, connecting on 27 of 53 shots with leading scorer Danielle Lawrence hitting 10 of 18 on her way to 25 points and Tamya Sims adding 16.
IUPUI was also 6 of 10 from the line while Wright State was 7 of 11 and did not attempt a free throw in the fourth quarter.
Wright State finished just plus one (33-32) on the boards, but IUPUI held a 40-24 edge on points in the paint.
“We have to be better defensively,” Merriweather said. “When you don’t even have to run plays because you can just take it to the basket… we have to find ways to be better guarding the ball.
“We usually beat people up on the boards and inside, and we didn’t do that today.”
Wright State returns to action Thursday at Cleveland State as they begin a four-game road trip that ends at Green Bay on Feb. 3.
No. 4 in the rafters: Wright State retired the jersey of all-time leading scorer Kim Demmings on Sunday. Demmings is a member of the Raiders’ coaching staff.