Scott Nagy saw on the floor at Northern Kentucky’s BB&T Arena on Friday night a Wright State team that looked familiar.
The Raiders shook off what their coach considered to be poor efforts during a road trip to Northeast Ohio last week to outrebound Northern Kentucky, 46-37, on the way to a 64-62 Horizon League win that clinched Wright State's first-ever regular-season outright conference championship and the No. 1 seed in next week's league tournament.
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Junior Loudon Love grabbed 14 rebounds and senior Bill Wampler finished with 11 for the Raiders, who pulled in 16 offensive rebounds, leading to a 17-12 advantage in second-chance points. Love had nine offensive rebounds.
“We got pounded on the glass last week like we haven’t seen in a long time,” Nagy said. “I was concerned that we’d lost our edge. We didn’t recognize them. Tonight, we got on the glass. That’s the team we’d seen all year.”
While the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Horizon League tournament was on the line in Wright State’s game at Northern Kentucky on Friday, the impact on the actual tournament was minimal.
Both teams already had earned the double-bye in the tournament, opening the way for automatic semifinal berths in the tournament. The semifinals are scheduled for March 9 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. The championship game is scheduled for March 10.
The Raiders, who had five days off going into Friday’s game, now are off until their semifinal matchup.
“That will give us a chance to get our head on straight,” said Nagy, whose team played three straight road games to close out the regular season.
Senior Cole Gentry’s two game-clinching free throws came on his only visit to the line in the entire game. Making both leaves him 159-of-181 in his career (87.8 percent). That is second-best in program history to Jesse Deister’s 89.0 percent from 2000 through 2002. Gentry now needs 20 points to reach 1,000 in his career, while Wampler needs six to reach four figures.
Wampler, Love, Gentry, Jaylon Hall and Tanner Holden comprised Wright State’s starting lineup for the 19th straight game and 25th overall this season. That’s out of 31 games. Hall and Gentry are the only players to start every game, while Holden has started every game except the opener. Wampler also has missed just one start.
The crowd of 6,776 was 16 short of matching the NKU men’s basketball program’s single-game attendance record. The Norse celebrated Senior Night and tried a “white out” promotion.
The Raiders win leaves them 26-12 in their series against the Norse, including a 95-63 win on Jan. 24. The teams have split the last 10 games.
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