Raiders keep composure during tough test with Grizzlies

Wright State coach Scott Nagy showed up at his postgame press conference casually munching away on a snack. Looking at the media, he said with a smile, ‘Do you mind if I finish my Rice Krispie treat first?”

But Nagy wasn’t just in a relaxed mood because his team racked up another win, beating Oakland, 83-71, before 5,053 fans Saturday night. He was fairly laid-back throughout the game, at least by his standards.

When the Grizzles made a late push, cutting a 17-point deficit to two with just over seven minutes to go in the second half, there was no consternation on the sidelines.

“I’d prefer we didn’t put ourselves in that situation, but I told the guys after the game I was very proud of how they handled it,” Nagy said. “When it got close, they didn’t panic. As a coach, I told them they should be proud of me — because I didn’t get too negative, either. Even at timeouts, I kept my cool.”

Senior wing Bill Wampler had 20 points and seven rebounds, and senior point guard Cole Gentry had his typically solid stat line of 16 points, six assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes.

Both were 4 of 7 on 3’s, and the Raiders (21-5, 11-2) finished 11 of 20 from the arc.

“When things get tight, teams can get out of their game,” said freshman Tanner Holden, who chipped in 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. “But we all came together with the coaching staff and just made it a real point to focus on the defensive end and get rebounds.”

Nagy, though, wasn’t sure how much credit the staff deserved.

“Let’s face it,” he said, “when you’ve got guys like Cole and Bill and these older guys you can trust so much, it’s easy not to panic.”

Tough time: The Grizzlies (8-17, 3-9) trailed only 65-63 when All-Horizon League forward Xavier Hill-Mais (21 points) scored inside. He also was fouled but missed the free throw.

Holden converted a three-point play to push the gap to five at 6:08. But unlike the first meeting when they waltzed to a 96-69 road victory, the Raiders never really seized control until the final two minutes when they finished the game on a 7-0 run.

Record watch: Loudon Love had his 10th double-double, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 4:54 to go.

The junior center reached 829 career rebounds, passing Sean Hammonds (1989-94) for second on the Raiders’ all-time list. Bill Edwards (1989-93) is first at 907.

“I can’t say enough about him in terms of the kind of young man he is,” Nagy said. “I’m happy he’s a good basketball player and we’ve won a lot of games with him here, but more importantly, he’s been a joy to coach.”

T'd up: It was a night of highs and lows for Love. The normally even-keeled star was tagged with a technical when he slammed the ball on the court after being whistled for a foul early in the second half.

“He was mad at himself, but how’s the official supposed to know if he’s mad at the call (or not)?” Nagy said. “Loudon doesn’t say two words to the officials. I said something to the official about it, but he said, ‘Well, it’s the optics.’

“If he does that in practice, we call a technical on him, too. He’s got to get control of his emotions.”

League race: Wright State kept its one-game edge on Northern Kentucky (18-7, 10-3) and has cozy cushion on the other contenders: Youngstown State (14-11, 7-5), Milwaukee (12-13, 7-6) and Green Bay (12-14, 7-6).

Coming up: The Raiders will play on ESPN2 at home against UIC at 9 p.m. Friday. They host IUPUI at 2 p.m. Sunday and then finish the regular-season with road games at Youngstown State, Cleveland State and Northern Kentucky.

Friday’s game

UIC at Wright State, 9 p.m., ESPN2, 106.5

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