Wright State women’s basketball: Raiders heading into league tourney on a roll

The Wright State women’s basketball team looked like such a pushover a month ago that anybody drawing them in the Horizon League tourney would have been peering ahead in the bracket to see who was coming next.

Not anymore.

“I’ve had other coaches in the league tell me we’re one of the scariest teams to play right now. That’s where you want to be,” second-year coach Kari Hoffman said.

The Raiders have won five of their last nine games, including an 86-74 pounding of visiting Detroit Mercy on Saturday.

Isabelle Bolender had 23 points, Kacee Baumhower 15 and Emily Chapman 14 to lead the way. Bolender on Sunday was named the Horizon League Player of the Week.

Sticking with what works, the Raiders hoisted 29 threes — almost half of their 60 shots overall — and knocked down 12 (41.4%) with Bolender making five.

The Raiders, 7-23 overall and 6-14 in the league, are seeded ninth in the tourney and will play at No. 8 Oakland (13-16, 8-12) at 7 p.m. Tuesday

“I’m very pleased with the level of toughness I see in our players. If we can carry that on for a couple more games, we can maybe knock off some teams that aren’t playing their best basketball right now,” Hoffman said.

The Raiders split two games with the Grizzlies, winning at home, 83-75, just four days ago.

“There’s a level of belief on our team. That has totally changed,” Hoffman said. “It all stems from a confidence that we’re really hard to guard.”

The Raiders are last in the HL in defense, giving up 77.7 points, and in rebound margin with a dismal minus-14.2 average per game.

But they have the best 3-point percentage in the league at 36.2 and are making the most treys at 10 per game.

Bryce Nixon is the only Raider averaging in double figures with an 11.6 average, but the team is loaded with long-range threats.

They broke the program record from 2014-15 for 3′s in a season by reaching 288 Saturday. And they vaporized the previous single-game mark of 15, getting 18 against Cleveland State and 16 at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Emily Chapman is shooting 44.6% from 3, Cara VanKempen 40.0, Nixon 39.1, Bolender 37.9, Lauren Scott 37.5 and Channing Chappell 35.9.

The Raiders shot 28.6% last season and never topped 30% in five years under previous coach Katrina Merriweather.

“There’s just a comfortability within our system,” Hoffman said. “It’s taken them some time to believe in it, to see it work and to understand we’re really hard to guard from the perimeter — and if they take that away, we can score at the hoop.”

When the Raiders were slogging along through November, December and most of January, Hoffman said she would be happy if her players just stayed together and fought to the end.

She’s elated they’re now getting to see some tangible results for their efforts.

“The whole part of building this team was to get high-character women who want to stick with us through the good and the bad,” she said.

“They stuck with us when it wasn’t going great, and I’m happy to see them reap some of the benefits from their perseverance. It’s really fun to see them playing so well and enjoying each other.”


Wright State at Oakland, 7 p.m.,

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