Wright State University guard Cole Gentry goes up for a basket against IUPUI during their Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Wright State won 106-66. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard
Photo: E.L. Hubbard
Photo: E.L. Hubbard

Raiders roar to victory as seniors take final bows

Nagy’s thank you to his seniors and fans — and plea for more support the rest of the season drew roars from the crowd.

The video tributes for Cole Gentry, Bill Wampler and Jordan Ash and the gratitude they expressed afterward were home runs.

And the heart-tugging speech from Ryan Custer, whose promising career was cut short by a swimming accident that left him paralyzed, had many in the audience dabbing tears from their eyes.

The only thing that could have dampened the festivities was if the team didn’t play up to its usual standards, and as jacked up as the players were, there was little chance of that happening.

The Raiders stormed to a 106-66 victory over lowly IUPUI on Sunday afternoon and were so far superior that they didn’t allow a point in the opening 6:30. By then, it was 16-0.

The gap kept ballooning — from 25-5 to 36-11 to 53-18 and, finally, to 60-23 at halftime. The last points came on a Gentry 3 just before the buzzer, followed by smiles and high-fives all around (even some of the coaches couldn’t help but grin).

The last time the Raiders hit those point totals for a half and game was in a rout of Detroit three years ago.

“We were good defensively to start the game, and that’s why we were good offensively. It couldn’t have gone much better,” Nagy said.

Of the seniors, he added: “They’re a big reason why we’ve been able to raise the level of play at Wright State for sure.”

All five starters reached double figures: Loudon Love with 18, Wampler 17, Tanner Holden 14, Gentry 13 and Jaylon Hall 10. Sub scoring machine James Manns notched 21 points in 21 minutes, and Ash tallied six points, including a rare dunk.

The Raiders are 23-5 overall and finished 14-2 at the Nutter Center, tying for their fewest home losses since going 12-1 in 2009-10.

They’re 13-2 in the Horizon League, equaling their best start in 29 years of conference play. They have three games left before the league tourney, all on the road, and can exceed the Division-I school record for wins (25) and league victories (14).

Northern Kentucky lost at home by 30 points to UIC on Sunday, giving the Raiders a two-game conference lead.

IUPUI is 6-22, 2-13.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Nagy said. “It’s hard not to pay attention (to the league race) because people tell me about it, but I wouldn’t have looked because I know our next game is Youngstown. They just got beat, and they’re going to be ready to go.”

Top-five offenses: Wright State went into the weekend fifth in the nation in scoring with an average of 81.59, just behind Dayton’s clip of 81.63.

After scoring 71 in a win at UMass, the Flyers dropped to 81.20, while the Raiders inched up to 82.46.

UD is second nationally in offensive efficiency, which takes into account pace of play, with 1.139 points per possession. Gonzaga is first at 1.183.

Wright State went into the game 25th at 1.065.

On target: Love, the favorite for the league player of the year award, has gained confidence in the one area of his game that’s been lacking: free throws.

He went 8 of 11 against IUPUI and is 29 of 40 in his last five games. He’s now connecting at a season-high 56.5%.

Attendance: The Raiders drew 6,003 fans, the second-biggest crowd of the year, putting their average at 4,120 for 2019-20 and giving them seven straight years at 4,000-plus.

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