Wright State senior guard Chelsea Welch drives to the basket during Saturday’s 80-75 victory against Oakland at the Nutter Center. ALLISON RODRIGUZ/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Welch overcomes slow start to lead WSU women to win

Chelsea Welch missed all 11 shots she took in the first half Saturday, and she still finished with 30 points to help Wright State hold off Oakland at the Nutter Center.

The Grizzlies sliced a 22-point second-half deficit to one, but a Welch three-point play stopped the skid and the Raiders went on to post an 80-75 victory.

“You gotta keep shooting,” the senior guard said of her halftime mindset after starting 0 for 11.

“It was rough,” she added. “I just tried to make up for it in other ways, in rebounding and playing defense. I was just trying to get my teammates open and in the second half let it come to me more naturally. And it ended up working out eventually.”

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Welch finished with a career-high 11 rebounds and five assists while scoring half her points on a career-high 15 free throws to help WSU improve to 18-8 overall and 9-5 in the HL.

“I told her that her first bucket might come from an offensive rebound and a putback,” Raiders coach Katrina Merriweather said. “She normally doesn’t rebound in our transition defense, so I moved her to the forward so she could rebound a little bit and play closer to the basket and see if she could make some stuff happen.”

Junior guard Mackenzie Taylor added 20 points, one shy of her career high, while senior forward Lexi Smith scored 10 while tying her career high with 16 rebounds.

And junior guard Emily Vogelpohl registered the 1,000th point of her career … and her first technical foul.

Vogelpohl finished with nine points, four of which came from the free throw line as the Raiders had a record night in that regard.

WSU shot 48 free throws, breaking the school record of 45 set in an 89-71 win at Youngstown State on March 6, 1982.

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The Raiders made 33, tying the school record set Nov. 29, 1980, in a 76-71 loss at Malone.

Welch attempted 20 of the free throws, tying the school record shared by Tiffany Webb (Jan. 16, 2003, at Butler) and Tay’ler Mingo (March 13, 2015, vs. Cleveland State).

Welch made her first three shots and four of her first five after halftime to help WSU boost a 12-point lead to 22, but Oakland (11-13, 4-9) stormed back to get within one with 4:49 left in the game.

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“We now have done that three major times,” Merriweather said of blowing big leads. “I’m not really sure what it is. But let’s be honest, people now know that we lose (leads). So they’re like, ‘Cleveland State was down 28-8 and they beat them.’ So what would you do if you’re playing us? Keep plugging away, keep plugging away.”

“But I’m proud of them for being tough enough to fight it off today,” Merriweather said.

The win kept WSU in fourth place in the league heading into their bye week.

The Raiders won’t play again until next Saturday at home against Northern Kentucky.

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