The Wright State women extended the program’s longest winning streak since moving to to Division I 30 years ago with a 67-47 triumph of Northern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at the Nutter Center.
The Raiders also leapt Wisconsin-Green Bay for sole possession of first place, marking the first time in program history they have led the Horizon League this late in the season.
“Being in first place is just a matter how the schedule is shaking out right now,” WSU coach Katrina Merriweather said after watching her squad win its ninth consecutive game to improve to 18-5 overall, 10-1 HL.
“All we’re going to do is keep focusing on taking one game at a time,” Merriweather added. “That’s what we’ve been doing the whole time.”
Green Bay entered the day in first place but suffered its second consecutive loss with a 96-92 setback at Detroit a few hours before the Raiders took the floor against NKU (7-16, 3-8).
“Everybody who knows me knows not to tell me that sort of stuff,” Merriweather said when asked if she aware of the Green Bay loss before tip-off. “We had our hands full today with Northern Kentucky, and that’s what we were concentrating on.”
The Raiders led by as many as nine in the first half but were up just four at the break after hitting only 1 of 11 3-point attempts.
But WSU attacked the rim in the second half, shooting 48.4 percent to pull away.
“It’s not rocket science,” Merriweather said. “We just try to take shots closer to the basket. Obviously we think those have the best chance of going in. We just continued to attack.”
Lexi Smith, Symone Simmons and Chelsea Welch each scored 15 points, and Emily Vogelpohl added 14. Smith added 14 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double, while Welch also notched a double-double by tying her career high with 10 boards.
The Raiders also committed a season-low four turnovers while forcing NKU into 21.
WSU is four wins shy of the longest winning shy of the program’s longest winning streak of 13, accomplished twice (1987-88 and 2004-05).
“We are excited,” Merriweather eventually allowed. “I don’t want to take any of it for granted. But it’s easy to get caught up in those things. It’s going to be a tall order because of media and the internet to keep our kids understanding that we need to do what got us here, which is focus on one practice at a time and getting better every day.
“And that we haven’t peaked yet,” she continued. “Just because we’re here doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be getting better. That’s’ what the goal is when we get back to work Monday.”