Detroit -- Shareta Brown smiles a lot when she plays basketball for Wayne State’s women’s team.
She smiles when she bulls inside for tough baskets. She smiles when she hits 3-point shots and she really smiled when she put a choke hold on Hillsdale in the first half with a backbreaking 3-point shot and steal.
“I knew we had it,” Brown said. “I was pumped for the rest of the game.”
When Brown is smiling it is usually bad news for opponents. She’s smiled a lot this season because the Warriors (21-6) are on a roll like never before. They demolished Hillsdale on Wednesday night, 75-60, in a GLIAC quarterfinal at Matthaei Center and their dream of winning a Division II National title remains alive.
At 1 p.m. Saturday the Warriors will make team history again by hosting their first GLIAC tournament semifinal. If they win they advance to their first conference title game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
They did it through hard work but they also did it by having a good time before an enthusiastic home crowd.
“Our motto tonight was just to have fun,” said Brown, who finished with 16 points and five rebounds. “And to play like we know how to play.”
These are uncharted waters for a program that was one of the worst in the Midwest. They are ranked No. 5 in the Midwest and are 5-1 against the top eight ranked teams.
Even though Wednesday’s game turned lopsided there were some moments of angst early. Hillsdale center Megan Fogt is the women’s version of Dennis Rodman. When the ball goes up it eventually comes down into the hands of Fogt. She averages 16.2 rebounds, which leads women’s Division II basketball by a whopping four boards a game. She has post moves, is strong and shreds double teams like confetti.
She finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds but scored just seven in the second half when WSU defended with more aggression.
The Warriors love to push the pace.
It is Detroit street ball with loads of refinement implemented by coach Carrie Lohr, who has guided this program to back-to-back 20 win seasons for the first time in team history.
Ondrea Hughes chipped in 12 points and Ashley Wilson showed some game with eight points during a 17-minute outing and everybody seems to know where their teammates are.
They love to run and gun and throw up alley-oop passes, even though they usually result in layups and not dunks like the men do.