Women's Basketball

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Women Enjoy Success Under First-Year Coach Merriweather
Release: Sunday 03/28/2017 
by WSU Athletic Media Relations

Under first-year head coach Katrina Merriweather, the Wright State women's basketball team achieved several milestones during the 2016-17 season. 

Merriweather was named head coach on April 19, 2016, but she was no stranger to the recent success of the program as she served the previous six seasons as an assistant coach.  During that tenure, the Raiders won 128 games and made the first five postseason appearances in school history (2011 and 2012 WBI, 2014 NCAA, 2015 and 2016 WNIT).

The 2016-17 campaign added on to that success as WSU finished 25-9, won its first-ever Horizon League regular-season title and posted its first-ever win in the WNIT against Central Michigan.  As a result, Merriweather was chosen as the Horizon League Coach of the Year as selected by the coaches, sports information directors and media throughout the league.

Here is a look back at some of the highlights of the 2016-17 and a brief preview of the coming months.

 

Team

* Posted 25 wins for the third time in the last four seasons and won 20 or more games for the sixth time in the last seven years after not doing so in the program's first 23 years in Division I.

* Finished the season with an RPI of 143.

* Won the Wright State Invitational Presented by Holiday Inn in December, defeating Eastern Kentucky, Fort Wayne and Miami (OH). 

* After starting the season 4-4, won 18 of its next 19 games, including a 13-game winning streak during January and February.

* The 13-game winning streak tied for the longest in school history.  Included in that streak was an 8-0 January, marking the first time that the Raiders have went undefeated in a month since going 3-0 in November 2004.  WSU has had 11 perfect months all-time, but none greater than 3-0 until January.

* The 15-3 Horizon League record was the best ever for Wright State, bettering the 12-6 mark set in 2011-12 and 2015-16.

* For the first time in program history, Wright State appeared in the Associate Press weekly poll as the Raiders received a vote in the February 20 poll.

* The Raiders appeared in College Insider Mid-Major Poll during the season, reaching as high as 21st on February 21.

* Wright State appeared in the postseason for the sixth time in the last seven years and was a part of the WNIT for the third consecutive season.  The Raiders, hosting their third-ever postseason game and first since 2011, won a 68-66 thriller over Central Michigan in the opening round. 

* WSU then rallied from a 20-point deficit to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter at Michigan in the WNIT second round before falling 71-66 to the Wolverines, a team that had defeated the Raiders 81-53 in the 2016 first round.

* In the Division I national rankings (amongst 345 schools), Wright State was fifth in fewest turnovers per game (11.4), ninth in fewest turnovers (386), 17th in free throws made (487), 21st in turnover margin (5.44), 23rd in free throws attempted (683), 29th in rebounds (1351), 45th in fewest fouls (480) and 50th in steals (301).  The .735 winning percentage ranked 41st.

 

Players

*Junior guard Chelsea Welch made quite an impact on the program in her first season after transferring from Pittsburgh.  A First Team All-Horizon League honoree, Welch led the league in scoring at 18.6 points per game and was fifth in steals per game (2.1), fifth in free throw percentage (.780), tied for eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.5), ninth in assists per game (3.2), tied for 13th in blocks per game (0.6) and 15th in field goal percentage (.433).

* Welch was selected as the Horizon League Player of the Week on January 30 and February 20.

* Welch scored in double figures in all but one game and scored 20 or more points on 11 occasions. Her season-best 33 points against Detroit Mercy on January 27 were tied for the third-most by a league player in a game this season.

* Nationally, Welch was ninth in minutes played (1230) and free throws made (167), 23rd in points (632) and 43rd in points per game (18.6).

* Junior forward Lexi Smith was selected to the league's All-Tournament Team as scored 30 points in two tournament games and added 21 rebounds while shooting 86 percent at the foul line.

* Smith finished second nationally in offensive rebounds per game (5.59) and was 35th in total rebounds with 301.

 

* Sophomore forward Symone Simmons, after not starting a game as a freshman, was one of three Raiders to start every game this season and finished 30th nationally in rebounds with 306.  Simmons scored a career-high 20 points to lead WSU to its first-ever WNIT win over Central Michigan.

 

* Sophomore guard Emily Vogelpohl was one of two Raiders to dish out over 100 assists on the season (101, Welch 110).   She led the team in steals with 74 and scored in double figures 21 times.

* Sophomore guard Mackenzie Taylor scored a career-high 21 points against Cleveland State on January 7, including six three-pointers, and scored in double figures 15 times.

 

Off the Court

* Six players were honored at the Annual Student-Athlete Recognition Night with grade point averages of 3.0 or better, and three were named to the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or above with at least three semesters at the same institution.

* The team has posted nearly 100 hours at several community service projects, including a pickup basketball game against the Detroit Diehards Wheelchair Basketball Team at Central High School in Detroit during a three-game, five-day road trip in February.

 

Future

The Raiders return all five starters and have 97 percent of their scoring and 98 percent of their rebounding expected back. 

WSU will welcome in a strong recruiting class in forward Kiana Adderton (Myrtle Beach, SC/Myrtle Beach), forward Summer Blevins (Marion, OH/Pleasant), center Tyler Frierson (Long Beach, CA/Millikan), guard Bre Lloyd (Fishers, IN/Hamilton Southeastern) and forward Nia Sumpter (Myrtle Beach, SC/Myrtle Beach) along with current freshman forward Dasia Evans, who sat out the season.

"I'm very, very proud of what this team was able to accomplish this year," said Merriweather.  "It's been above and beyond my and others expectations.  One thing I never had to question this year was how hard we were going to play and how bad they wanted to win."

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