Wright State coach Scott Nagy doesn’t want his players to take gambles on defense. He’d rather have them crowd the lane and stay in front of dribblers than trap all over the floor.
But sound defensive principles and a willingness to hit the deck for loose balls have created a slew of turnovers this season, making up for some shoddy offensive efforts at times.
That was the case in a 63-54 win over Kent State before 3,448 fans Saturday. The Flashes had 24 turnovers to go with 19 field goals, which isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
The Raiders rank in the top 50 in the nation in generating turnovers with 17.5 per game.
“Our defense isn’t so much focused on turnovers, but we’ve gotten a lot this year. I’ve been somewhat shocked by that,” Nagy said.
“Our teams don’t force a lot because we don’t pressure. But we’ve had great rotations and guys hustling back when we’ve missed shots.”
The Raiders needed high-caliber defense to notch their sixth straight home win — their longest streak since 2007-08 — because they were 4-of-22 on 3-pointers (18.2 percent) and 20-of-52 from the field overall (38.5).
Grant Benzinger led four players in double figures with 13 points.
Here are five things we learned:
Multi-pronged attack: The Raiders don’t have a prolific scorer. Mark Alstork might have filled that role, but he transferred to Illinois (he’s starting and averaging about eight points and four rebounds).
They have plenty of scoring threats most nights, though. Benzinger is averaging 13.9 points, Everett Winchester 10.2, Mark Hughes 10.0, Louden Love 9.9, Jaylon Hall 9.8 and Justin Mitchell 9.7.
“It’s really hard (on opponents),” Benzinger said of the balanced attack. “You can focus on stopping one guy, but you’ve got four or five others who can do what that one guy can do. You’ve just got to pick your poison if you’re the other team.”
Cold streak: The Raiders’ troubles with 3-pointers wasn’t unusual. They haven’t been good all season, shooting 31.7 percent.
Benzinger was 2-for-9 on 3s and Hughes 1-for-9, but Nagy wants them to keep casting.
“I mentioned to our team during the week that we want Mark and Grant freed up to shoot 3s because they’re good shooters. Neither one of them shot the ball well (Saturday), but it puts pressure on the defense and gets things open for other people, and we need that,” Nagy said.
“We’re kind of average at the other spots, particularly shooting the ball. If those guys aren’t aggressive, it keeps the floor pretty compact for us. It’s not very often that your two best shooters can go 2-for-18 and you can win.”
Talk cheap: Wright State and Kent State left the floor together at halftime and had a bit of a verbal jousting while trotting to their locker rooms.
Though they were trailing, 31-24, the Flashes were doing some chirping. When some Raiders reminded them of that seven-point lead by saying, “Scoreboard,” a Kent State player started clapping loudly in their direction and shouted, “Two halves, two halves.”
For all their bravado, the Flashes never mounted much of a charge. The Raiders actually won the second half, 32-30.
Getting chippy: The refs issued a double-technical foul on Wright State’s Louden Love and Kent State’s Akiean Frederick with 4:39 left in the game.
Love looked as if he made a clean block on a Frederick layup but was called for the foul. Frederick then took a step toward Love and clapped in his face, drawing the whistle.
Love’s hack and technical gave him five fouls, sending him to the bench.
Coming up: The Raiders have three non-conference road games before starting Horizon League play. They play Toledo at 2 p.m. Saturday, Missouri State on Dec. 19 and Georgia Tech on Dec. 22.
Nagy’s goal is to have close to a split of home and away non-league games, and they’ll finish this season with seven at the Nutter Center and six in opposing buildings.
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