Wright State senior A.J. Pacher sat down for the postgame press conference at the Nutter Center and summed up the evening with one sentence.
“Ah, this feels a little better,” he said.
Pacher and the Raiders had a nice little Sunday in their regular-season opener nine days after a forgettable Friday exhibition game against Findlay. Mount St. Joseph is no Findlay — and it’s certainly no Georgetown, Wright State’s opponent on Wednesday — but Wright State struggled to beat the Division III Lions last season, and they had no trouble with them this time.
The Raiders won 82-49. The victory served as only the first bit of good news.
Miles Dixon not only played with his injured shoulder in a black sleeve, but he started and survived a flagrant foul. Kendall Griffin returned to the lineup and played 28 minutes. Pacher shot a perfect game — 9-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line, all in the first half — to score a team-high 21 points.
“Pacher for President,” a student shouted.
Yet one play in the second half stuck out to coach Billy Donlon, whose team lost 80-76 to Findlay in its one exhibition game.
“I was proud of a lot of things,” Donlon said. “Our program stands for a few things, and it has nothing to do with putting the ball in the basket. I felt we got away from that against Findlay: effort plays, toughness plays. When a teammate falls, run and pick him up.
“That play by Jerran Young, where he jumps over the bench to save it, was an incredible play, but the next thing that happens is why you have a chance to be successful. Matt Vest’s effort to jump over the bench to pick him up.”
Young had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds and, most importantly, looked healthy. He played against Findlay despite having practiced only once in the previous three weeks because of an ankle injury.
The Raiders almost looked complete, but not quite. Cole Darling didn’t play because of his sprained foot, and Reggie Arceneaux tweaked a hamstring in practice last week and missed the game. Arceneaux has a chance to play Wednesday at Georgetown, Donlon said, and he’s not sure about Darling.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Donlon said. “We are a tired team because we haven’t been able to practice and condition the way we normally would. That’s not the fault of the kids. Injuries are injuries, and there are issues.”