Jalen Tate (11 in black) was among the hot shooters for the Norse on Tuesday night.

Horizon League tournament: Northern Kentucky too hot for Wright State in final

The Norse topped the Raiders 77-66 in the Horizon League tournament final to claim the championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. 

The teams shared the regular season title and split their two regular season meetings, but the rubber match was all NKU at Little Caesar’s Arena. 

Jalen Tate scored 17 points to lead five Norse double-figure scorers. 

Bill Wampler led Wright State with 16 points while Mark Hughes and Cole Gentry added 15 apiece. 

>>ARCHDEACON: It’s love and basketball for these two Raiders

The Raiders trailed by a many as 18 in the first half, but Loudon Love’s free throw cut Wright State’s deficit to nine points to open the second half. 

NKU stretched it back out to 15 in short order via a pair of 3-point plays by Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. 

The first 3-point play was of the old-fashioned variety, and the second came via a shot from behind the arc on a fast break. 

The lead reached 16 at the 15:49 mark when Tyler Sharpe connected from 3-point range on the wing. 

Hughes made a 3 and Gentry stole the ball and went for a fast-break layup to bring the Raiders within 11, but Dantez Walton splashed a pair of 3s to halt Wright State’s momentum. 

The deficit hit 17 when McDonald hit a trey with the shot clock running down to make it 62-45 with just under 12 minutes on the clock, and Zaynah Robinson made it 19 with a field goal following a Wright State turnover. 

Northern Kentucky, which earned its second NCAA tournament bid since moving up to Division I, led by a many as 20. 

Raiders fell behind hot-shooting Northern Kentucky early and never fully recovered.

**HALFTIME**

Wright State trails Northern Kentucky 44-34 at halftime of the Horizon League tournament championship game. 

The Norse came out red-hot, making six of their first eight 3-point attempts to build a 32-16 lead in the first 12 minutes. 

Wright State pulled within 10 points on a pair of Loudon Love free throws with 1:57 on the clock, but Jalen Tate and Zaynah Robinson sandwiched NKU baskets around a Wright State free throw by Malachi Smith to push the WSU deficit back to 13. 

Wright State point guard Cole Gentry made it a 10-point game at the break by swishing a deep 3 with seven seconds left. 

>>RELATED: Wright State women punch ticket to NCAA tournament

The Raiders shot 44.4 percent from the floor in the first half, but the Horizon League’s top defense allowed the Norse to hit 59.3 percent of their field goals, including 7 of 10 from 3-point land. 

Tate led all scorers with 12 points in the first half while Robinson had 11. They were a combined 5 for 6 from long range. 

Love and Gentry had eight points apiece to lead the Raiders, who shared the regular season Horizon League title with the Norse and entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed. 

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