With his team mired in a three-game losing streak and staring down two road contests in a three-day span, Wright State men’s basketball coach Billy Donlon voiced little concern because the Raiders were getting solid shots that he thought would eventually drop.
Monday night at Detroit it happened right from the start.
Senior guards Kendall Griffin and Chrishawn Hopkins hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game and freshman guard Grant Benzinger knocked down his first four treys as WSU raced out to a 17-point lead and rode it to a 64-53 victory before a crowd of 1,786 at Calihan Hall.
“Something coach really harped on is that it’s a process and we’ll get there eventually,” said Griffin, who went 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free throw line for a career-high 20 points to help WSU improve to 11-10 overall and 3-4 in the Horizon League.
“I think tonight was a good indicator of the process working,” he added.
In addition to his scoring outburst, Griffin’s defense was a big reason the Titans (10-12, 3-4 HL) struggled to score as he held senior forward Juwan Howard Jr., the league’s second-leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, to four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“Kendall Griffin was spectacular at both ends of the floor,” Donlon said. “To be able to play against one of the best players, not only in our league, but he is one of the best players around in Juwan, and then to have 20.
“We needed every point and all of them were valuable and what he did was great,” he added. “And then Grant Benzinger; we had a young player step up and make some big shots.”
Benzinger went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc to tie his career high with 18 points as the Raiders (11-10, 3-4 Horizon League) tied their season high with 11 3-pointers.
Junior forward Michael Karena added eight points while junior guard Joe Thomasson scored seven to go along with a game-high seven rebounds as Wright State shot 45.5 percent (20 of 44) from the floor.
“We’ve actually been a team that gets off to relatively slow starts, so to get off to a good start, it’s kind of shocking actually,” Griffin said. “That was huge.”
The only lull came late in the first half when the Titans used a 14-3 run to get within six. But the Raiders got inside buckets from Karena and Thomasson to start the second half before senior guard Reggie Arceneaux and Benzinger hit back-to-back treys to push the lead back to double digits.
“We got off to a hot start, and they made a run back at us,” Benzinger said. “In the second half we had to pick it back up. We did, and they never really got back into it.”
Hopkins added six points a team-high four assists for the Raiders, who return to action Wednesday night at Oakland.
Anton Wilson came off the bench to lead Detroit with 15 points, but none of the Titans’ starters scored more than seven.
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