Raiders fall in 1st NCAA Tourney appearance

By Joshua Brown

March 22, 2014

Staff and Wire Reports

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky’s size alone presented a huge obstacle for Wright State to overcome while adjusting to making its first NCAA tournament appearance.

There was also the added hurdle of beating the third-seeded Wildcats on their home floor, a challenge that proved too much for the No. 14 Raiders. Other than a brief first-half surge that got them within seven points, they couldn’t keep up with a Kentucky team that rolled to a 106-60 victory on Saturday and left Wright State coach Mike Bradbury surprised by the margin.

“Well, clearly that didn’t go the way we wanted it to, the way we had envisioned,” Bradbury said. “The pace was right, the speed of the game was right, all of that stuff was right. But we shot 23 percent.

“I give a lot of credit to Kentucky for that. Defensively, they were good and they are good, they’re always good. We missed some open shots, especially early in the game and that got us behind the eight-ball a little bit. Then, it just kind of continued from there.”

Breanna Stucke, a 2011 Tippecanoe High School graduate, came in off the bench for Wright State, grabbing one rebound in eight minutes while not attempting a field goal.

“It was an incredible experience,” Stucke said. “Once you step out on that floor in front of all those people, you can’t help but smile. Most people don’t ever get the chance to do something like that. I even got chills during the national anthem.

“The whole team was happy to be there, and we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. We competed, it just wasn’t our night. We had more shot attempts than them, but we just didn’t hit them — shots we’d normally hit. But Kentucky is a great team, and they played great defense. They’re bigger than us, and they outrebounded us.”

Wright State (26-9) missed its first seven shots, with three of those blocked. Tay’ler Mingo made the Raiders’ first basket from long range to bring them within 12-5 at the 15:53 mark, but the Wildcats soon increased the lead to double digits and were up by 26 at halftime.

It only got worse for the Raiders, who shot just 19 of 83 from the field and were outworked in every phase by the Wildcats (25-8). Wright State was outrebounded 67-40, outscored 66-26 in the paint and 54-8 in bench points.

Ivory James had 16 points to lead Wright State, which also got 12 from Kim Demmings.

The Raiders’ only bright spot was scoring 15 points off 22 Kentucky turnovers.

“I think we managed our emotions pretty well,” said Mingo, who finished with 14 points. “Our main focus was to try and get back into the game. Shots didn’t fall, but we still tried our best to hold it together. It just didn’t go our way today.”

Injured guard KC Elkins provided a poignant moment when she inbounded the ball in the final seconds of the loss. That allowed Wright State’s career games-played leader to participate in the program’s milestone after tearing her left anterior cruciate ligament in the Horizon League championship game win, which earned the school’s first NCAA appearance.

Jennifer O’Neill scored 21 points for Kentucky. Samarie Walker added 12 with 14 rebounds and seven Wildcats scored in double figures.

Hosting its first NCAA women’s postseason game, Kentucky shot 55 percent from the field, grabbed a school-record 67 rebounds and recorded a season-high 12 blocks.

Janee Thompson added 14 points, Linnae Harper 12, DeNesha Stallworth and Bria Goss 11 each and Azia Bishop 10 for Kentucky.

The Wildcats will meet No. 6 Syracuse, a 59-53 winner over No. 11 Chattanooga, in Monday night’s second round of the Notre Dame Regional.

Despite the lopsided outcome, the Raiders looked at the game as a step in the right direction for the program.

“We played a great school in Kentucky, so credit them for coming out, playing hard with intensity and competitiveness,” Demmings said. “That’s one thing I’ll remember.”

And for Stucke — who had to decide whether or not to have back surgery prior to this season so she could even come back for her junior year — the decision to come back for her last year of eligibility was an easy one.

“Oh, absolutely,” Stucke said when asked if she — and the team— would be back. “We’re going to be right back in this position again, trying to win our conference title and get back here. Now we’ll know what it’s like and what to expect. But it was awesome to be part of the first team that’s been able to make it here. Everything we’ve been through, the support we got from the community, we couldn’t have asked for better.”

Notre Dame 93,

Robert Morris 42

TOLEDO — Michaela Mabrey scored 11 of her 16 points in the first half, and top-seeded Notre Dame breezed to a victory in its NCAA tournament opener against 16th-seeded Robert Morris.

Jewell Loyd and Natalie Achonwa added 15 points each for the unbeaten Fighting Irish, who are trying for their fourth straight Final Four appearance. Notre Dame (33-0) is a No. 1 seed for the third straight season.

Arizona St. 69,

Vanderbilt 61

TOLEDO — Katie Hempen scored 16 points, and ninth-seeded Arizona State handed eighth-seeded Vanderbilt a rare first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, holding off the Commodores.

The Sun Devils (23-9) shot 62 percent to win this matchup between two teams who struggled coming into this tournament. Arizona State had lost three in a row and six of eight. Vanderbilt’s loss Saturday was its fifth straight and 10th in 12 games.

Syracuse 59,

Chattanooga 53

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Syracuse guard Brittney Sykes had 13 points and 12 rebounds before injuring her right knee midway through the second half as the sixth-seeded Orange beat Chattanooga for its first-ever NCAA tournament win.

Leading 40-36 with 12:46 remaining, Sykes drove to the basket before grabbing her leg and screaming. The Orange stayed strong without their top scorer, using a 52-36 rebounding edge to stretch the lead to 10 with 2:33 left before withstanding a late Chattanooga rally featuring three 3-pointers from Taylor Hall.

Purdue 84, Akron 55

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Whitney Bays scored 20 points and Courtney Moses added 12 as Purdue routed Akron.

It proved to be a milestone day for the Boilermakers (22-8). Moses tied the school’s career record for 3s. She made two, giving her 238 — the same total Katie Gearlds had during her All-American career. The win also gave coach Sharon Versyp her 300th career win, and it set up a Monday night showdown between the fourth-seeded Boilermakers, who have won 11 of 13, and fifth-seeded Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma St. 61,

FGC 60, OT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Tiffany Bias’ driving layup with 41 seconds remaining in overtime lifted No. 5 seed Oklahoma State to a victory over No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast.

The Cowgirls (24-8) will play either No. 4 seed Purdue or 13th-seeded Akron in the second round on Monday night.

• Lincoln Regional

DePaul 104,

Oklahoma 100

DURHAM, N.C. — Megan Rogowski scored 24 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40.5 seconds left to help DePaul beat Oklahoma 104-100 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Lincoln Regional.

Chanise Jenkins added 21 points and Brittany Hrynko had 19 for the seventh-seeded Blue Demons (28-6). They blew a 19-point lead with under 16 minutes left, then rallied for a wild win.

Duke 87, Winthrop 45

DURHAM, N.C. — Tricia Liston scored 20 points and Duke routed Winthrop.

Freshman Oderah Chidom added 17 points for the second-seeded Blue Devils (28-6).

Nebraska 75,

Fresno State 55

LOS ANGELES — Jordan Hooper had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Nebraska defeated Fresno State.

Emily Cady added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cornhuskers (26-6), the Big Ten tournament champions who have won 13 of 14 games.

• Louisville Regional

Tennessee 70,

NW State 46

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Isabelle Harrison scored 12 points and sparked a game-changing 12-0 run as No. 1 seed Tennessee withstood an ailing head coach and a lethargic first-half performance to beat Northwestern State.

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick missed the Lady Vols’ morning shootaround with what school officials described as a case of food poisoning. Warlick rejoined her team for the game, but she had an IV port in her left hand during the first half and sat on an orange stool while assistant coach Kyra Elzy stood and shouted instructions.

Cal 64, Fordham 63

WACO, Texas — Brittany Boyd scored 22 points, including the game-winning jumper with 14 seconds left, and California survived for a victory over feisty Fordham.

California (22-9), a Final Four team last season, held on when Erin Rooney’s final shot for the Rams came up short.

• Stanford Regional

Florida State 55,

Iowa State 44

AMES, Iowa — Natasha Howard had her school-record 15th double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and 10th-seeded Florida State defeated cold-shooting Iowa State.

The Seminoles (21-11) won their 11th straight tournament opener since 1991, prevailing in a game in which turnovers outnumbered field goals 44-36. They’ll play No. 2 seeded Stanford or No. 15 South Dakota on Monday night.