Raiders shake off slow start, get season started with easy win

Wright State's Tanner Holden drives around Lake Erie's Caleb Piks during Tuesday's season opener at the Nutter Center. Joe Craven/Wright State Athletics

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Wright State's Tanner Holden drives around Lake Erie's Caleb Piks during Tuesday's season opener at the Nutter Center. Joe Craven/Wright State Athletics

Holden leads WSU with 19 points, Finke adds 18

FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy went into his team’s season-opener against Lake Erie College planning to sub heavily, so he expected the play to be a little ragged.

Just maybe not THAT ragged.

The Raiders sputtered through the first 13 minutes and were leading only 25-24. But they manhandled the Division-II school from Painesville, Ohio, after that, winning 86-53 before 3,717 fans Tuesday.

It was an exhibition for Lake Erie but a real game for Wright State.

“We weren’t very sharp defensively,” said Nagy, who wasn’t thrilled with what transpired on either end of the floor. “We were super average offensively.”

He added: “I don’t say this all the time — I’m not saying it just to be saying it — but they’re pretty well coached. We’re not going to run into many teams this year that screen the way they do. They’re physical. We struggled to get through a lot of their screens and had to switch some of them, which we’re not used to doing.”

Clinging to a one-point edge, the Raiders ripped off 15 straight points over the next five minutes for a 40-24 lead.

The skillful wings led the way. Tanner Holden had 12 of his 19 points and Tim Finke 11 of his 18 in the first half.

Center Grant Basile had 13 points and 13 rebounds and point guard Trey Calvin had 11 points, two assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

The Raiders finished the first half on a 22-4 run for a 47-28 lead.

The Storm, who went 4-14 last season and were picked ninth in the Great Midwest Conference, dropped a 75-64 decision at Northern Kentucky on Thursday.

“We decided to start guarding,” Basile said. “We turned it on defensively, which is what we needed to do. That’s our identity.”

There was some mystery about Nagy’s choice for a fifth starter to go with returnees Holden, Finke, Basile and Calvin. He went with 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Alex Huibregtse, who played in all 24 games last season and averaged 2.6 points in 14.6 minutes per game.

He had five points, all in the first half.

Four subs played in the opening eight minutes: Andrew Welage, Keaton Norris, Andy Neff and Riley Voss, a grad transfer from Cornell.

Voss’ first points as a Raider came on a 3 with 15 minutes to go, and Nagy said the 6-6 forward likely would have started if he hadn’t dislocated a finger on his right (shooting) hand two days before the game. He also missed much of the preseason with a sprained right thumb.

But the Raiders have plenty of options.

“Alex is pretty scrappy,” Nagy said. “He wasn’t perfect defensively tonight, but that’s how he earned our confidence. He can really shoot the ball. He didn’t shoot it well tonight: 1 for 6 from 3. But that’ll change. I’m not concerned about that at all.”

MARRIAGE IN THE FAMILY: Scott and Jamie Nagy gained a daughter-in-law last Friday. Brooke and Tyler Nagy were married in Breckenridge, Colo.

It was a quick trip for the coach, who was in game preparation mode. He took a commercial flight out Thursday and flew back Saturday, missing only Friday’s practice.

“It was a great deal. One of my best friends — who married my wife and I almost 30 years ago and married my other son — married them. We have some cool traditions with our family,” Nagy said.

“It was a good deal. It was a fast deal. Now, I’m back to my life.”

MAKING NOISE: The Raiders drew a lively crowd and had a larger student presence than in recent years. The official count was 812.

“They came in about 50 minutes before tipoff, so it definitely was a different vibe,” Holden said.

“They got pretty loud. Fans were engaged. They were excited to get back in the Nutter Center just as much as we were.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Wright State at Marshall, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 103.9

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