FAIRBORN — Green Bay still rules Horizon League women’s basketball.
But the Wright State Raiders showed they won’t let the Phoenix run and hide in pursuit of its 20th straight regular-season championship. Undaunted and unintimidated, the Raiders not only hung around with the nation’s 19th ranked team, they dominated the third quarter and early parts of the fourth before losing, 58-51, in the league opener for both teams at the Nutter Center Thursday.
“In the last five minutes we had some defensive breakdowns,” Coach Katrina Merriweather said. “We have yet to play 40 whole minutes of good basketball. It’s unfortunate that that happened today.”
Wright State (9-4 overall, 0-1 HL) led, 35-29, with six minutes left in the third after a three-pointer by Emily Vogelpohl. But by the time the first media time out came with 4:47 left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied and WSU would never regain the lead.
The Phoenix (11-1 overall, 1-0 HL) muscled its way to a 10-2 advantage in the paint in each of the final two quarters and also took advantage of several WSU turnovers to turn the six-point deficit into a five-point lead with 36 seconds left.
But the Raiders weren’t totally finished.
Breaunna Lloyd banked a long three-pointer with 32 seconds left, pleasing the crowd of 814. But then Green Bay’s Karly Murphy made a pair of free throws and Jen Wellnitz made a conventional three-point play after a steal to essentially close out the game.
Chelsea Welch had a game-high 22 points for WSU, while Vogelpohl added 12. But it wasn’t quite enough as Green Bay won its seventh straight over WSU and improved to 22-1 against the Raiders while Merriweather has been either an assistant or head coach.
“We don’t get intimidated,” Welch said. “Our team sees them just like we see any other team. We came in ready to play. We fought hard and we played as best as we could. We just did our best, worked as hard as we could.”
The Raiders showed right from the start that they weren’t going to let Green Bay come in and push them around. Despite some shooting that was as frigid as the outside temperature (23 percent in the first quarter), the Raiders trailed just 11-6 after one and by halftime had trimmed the margin to 23-20 thanks to a 12-4 run.
Wright State came out hot in the second half, outscoring the Phoenix 7-0 in the first 90 seconds, thanks to five points from Vogelpohl sandwiched around a jumper from Symone Simmons. Minutes later, Welch and Vogelpohl each hit three-pointers to give the Raiders their largest lead.
That’s when the Phoenix went to work inside.
“They’re a big team but we’re very athletic Welch said. “I don’t know really (what happened).”
Jessica Lindstrom and Allie LeClaire led Green Bay with 15 points each, while Wellnitz added 11.
The Raiders will look for some answers before hosting Milwaukee 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Green Bay is at Northern Kentucky 12 p.m. the same day.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.