By Scott Halasz
FAIRBORN — Eleven games into the season, the Wright State women’s basketball team has found the formula for success: Have a lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Heading into Tuesday afternoon’s game against Fort Wayne in the Wright State Invitational, WSU had a lead at that point in the game seven times, and all but once the Raiders emerged victorious.
Add another “W” to that list.
Sophomore Symone Simmons scored a game-high 16 points and fellow sophomore Mackenzie Taylor added a season-high 13, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, as Wright State topped the Mastedons, 62-51.
Entering the fourth quarter tied, 39-39, WSU outscored Fort Wayne, 23-12, to win its third straight.
“We really came together and had energy,” Taylor said of the fourth-quarter effort. “To be able to get stops down the stretch, that helps us to produce.”
In addition to limiting the Mastedons (2-10) to just five makes in the fourth quarter, the Raiders hit 7 of 10 field goals in the final 10 minutes — including Taylor’s two long heaves — and made all seven free throws they took.
“We sat down and we defended,” Coach Katrina Merriweather said. “It’s just a matter of having more possessions of team defense. (And) it helps to make shots.”
Neither team shot well in the first half as they struggled to a 21-21 halftime game. The Raiders shot 33.3 percent in the first half, Fort Wayne made 36.8 of its shots.
The teams combined to shoot 56 percent in the third quarter en route to an 18-18 quarter as neither team led by more than five. That’s when WSU (7-4) put the game away.
The Raiders started with a 7-0 run that included a transition 3-pointer by Taylor. The lead reached eight four times, including 55-46 with 4:09 left, but the Mastedons went on one final scoring surge, cutting the lead in half with 2:38 left after a bucket by Zaria Atkins (12 points).
That’s when Taylor struck again, taking a pass from Chelsea Welch and draining another 3-pointer with 2:16 left.
“My team had a lot of confidence in me,” Taylor said. “They found me in open places, I was able to knock down the shot.”
With the other four starters averaging double figures, Taylor’s ability to hit from the perimeter prevents the opposition from leaving her open in a double-team effort.
“She’s critical whether she makes that three or not,” Merriweather said. “She’s so dangerous in transition.”
As is WSU when it leads with five minutes left.
Contact Scott Halasz at937-502-4507.