WSU women’s hoops team deserves more fans

As they head into the conference portion of their schedule, the Wright State women’s basketball team seems to have just about everything it needs to make a run at another NCAA Tournament berth.

The Raiders have the nation’s No. 16 scorer in senior Chelsea Welch, who is averaging 21.3 points per game.

They have the No. 29 scoring offense, impressively averaging 82 points per game.

They have a defense that limits teams to 39 percent shooting and just 62 points a game.

They have a great young coach in Katrina Merriweather, who is sure to be courted by some power conference teams in the near future.

And they have the best arena in the Horizon League.

They are missing just one thing: You, the fans.

Where ya been?

This is nothing new for WSU women’s basketball. I remember going to games when Lisa Fitch was coaching and there were maybe 50 people watching. This isn’t a knock on Fitch or the team. They were fairly decent back then. But unfortunately, nobody cared.

Things haven’t changed much.

Last year WSU averaged 551 fans for 18 home games. So far this year, the Raiders are at 657 per game. But take away Education Day, when 1,321 fans were there, and WSU is averaging just 436 a game. Considering average home attendance in the NCAA last season was 1,538, that’s still not hateful.

But this team deserves better.

I don’t often ridicule fans for poor attendance numbers. But we aren’t, as former Temple coach John Chaney once said, “out in the sticks.” There are nearly a million people in the Dayton metro area.

I know everyone is busy. We all have lives. When my wife and I leave work, we pick up our two kids from school and after-care, go home, feed them, help with homework, bathe them, then put them to bed. It’s a nightly routine.

But when we have something we want to do outside the home, we find a way if it’s important.

I’m not trying to dictate how you run your household, and I’m not trying to tell you that WSU women’s basketball should be at the top of your list all the time.

But on any given night they play at home, surely there are more than 657 people looking for something to do.

The folks at WSU have made it easy. Tickets are cheap and there is one night game left — a Friday. Most of the games are weekends.

Some — like Thursday’s 4:30 p.m. game with No. 19 Green Bay — are doubleheaders with the men’s team, so why not catch a pair of games?

And it’s a pretty big one for WSU and Green Bay.

These two teams are the crème de la crème of the Horizon League. The Phoenix enters the game 10-1 with its lone loss to Mississippi State — No. 5 in the latest AP poll — in a tournament in Cancun.

WSU has losses to then-No. 23 and now-No. 16 Missouri (two points), Providence (five points) and Georgia (16 points).

The 9-3 Raiders haven’t beaten Green Bay since an 88-69 win in the Horizon League tourney finals during the 2013-14 season. That’s seven straight losses.

A win Thursday will give the Raiders the advantage as the rest of the league season plays out. The return trip to Green Bay won’t be a must win as long as WSU is able to win the games it is supposed to and avoid tripping up when it shouldn’t.

So far the Raiders have been able to do that. Their wins have been fairly easy and except for Georgia — when a nine-point deficit after the first quarter doomed them — the two losses could have easily been wins.

Why not take a break from returning unwanted gifts, or grabbing those after-Christmas specials and head over to the Nutter Center Thursday?

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.