Wright State coach Scott Nagy spent the week preaching a one-word theme ahead of his team’s showdown against Northern Kentucky:
And junior forward Parker Ernsthausen literally took the message to heart.
Playing with a protective chest pad after suffering a sternum contusion in last Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ernsthausen turned in one of the most physical and productive performances of his career to help the Raiders return to first place in the Horizon League with a 69-67 victorybefore a raucous crowd of 7,205 Friday night at the Nutter Center.
“We were calling him Tony Stark from “Iron Man” all week because he had this pad, just like Tony had the orb that kept his life going,” WSU senior guard Grant Benzinger said of Ernsthausen. “The way he played was awesome. We’re like, ‘this guy is hurting but he’s playing his face off.’ It really inspired us.”
Ernsthausen hit 4 of 6 shots, two of which were strong drives to the basket with successful finishes.
In addition to the 10 points, which were one shy of his season high, Ernsthausen also grabbed three rebounds and registered a team-high three assists.
But what really had Nagy and his teammates raving was the way he stood in and took two charges in the first half.
“I can tell you now, his chest, I mean he took a shot in that Milwaukee game,” Nagy said. “And that was the big question I had for him, was ‘Are you going to be able to stand there?’ Because that’s one of the things he does better than anybody is take charges.”
It was an attempt to take a charge against Milwaukee that forced him to miss the second half after absorbing a shot from Bryce Nze in the paint. The lingering effects from the blow forced Ernsthausen to miss a couple practices while he was having difficulty breathing.
“It was an odd week for me practice-wise,” he said. “I was out a little bit contact-wise. I wasn’t sure about charges tonight, but instinct kicked in and just had to help out the team. Maybe it helped me a little bit to feel like I had a little protection there and I could go hard.”
In addition to driving into the fangs of the No. 1 defense in the league for a pair of buckets, Ernsthausen also swished a 3-pointer early in the second half to snap a 34-34 tie, and the Raiders led the rest of the way.
It was only his third 3-pointer of the year.
“A lot of guys like (freshman center Loudon Love) carry a big load, and just to take a little bit off of them scoring wise helps the team tremendously,” Ernsthausen said.
Love, who led WSU with 15 points and six rebounds, picked up his fourth foul with 7:17 to go. But less than a minute after Love went out, Ernsthausen knocked down a jumper to give the Raiders their biggest lead of the night at 61-50.
“He was so good,” Nagy said. “He was good offensively. He knocked down a 3, made some plays off the dribble for us, some nice passes. I thought it was one of his better games because he’s got his hands full with (preseason HL Player of the Year) Drew McDonald on top of it.
“I thought it was one of his best games by far.”
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.