Wright State coach Scott Nagy believes the grind of the season is getting to his players. And after three straight ho-hum showings against foes ranked 277th, 305th and 243rd out of 353 teams in the NET rankings, he knows exactly what they need to shake their funk: a day off.
The Raiders beat visiting Youngstown State, 79-72, on Saturday to improve to 17-4 overall and 7-1 in the Horizon League. It’s their best 21-game start as a Division-I program (since 1986) and matched their best league start in 29 years of conference play.
But something’s amiss with the Raiders, who lost at UIC and were tested in a home win over Cleveland State in their previous two outings.
“I would describe us as a little bit of a mess right now, particularly offensively. The last three games, we’ve not been very good at all. It’s a little bit of a struggle,” Nagy said.
Playing before a season-high crowd of 5,474 on Military Appreciation Day, the Raiders shot only 40.9% and were tied with 15 minutes to go. And though they had just six turnovers, they were out-rebounded (45-41) for the second consecutive game.
“We just struggled with energy — and I mean from this morning and through the day. It just felt very flat,” Nagy said.
“Everyone needs a day to just get away from each other, get away from basketball and rest their legs — and maybe more so rest their minds and spirit.”
The Raiders have a chance to do just that since their only game this week is Friday at home against rival Northern Kentucky. The Raiders have a one-game lead over the Norse in the league.
Team effort: Junior center Loudon Love had 21 points (on 8-of-21 shooting) and nine rebounds. Freshman wing Tanner Holden had just eight points but pulled down 13 boards.
The Penguins (11-9, 4-3) were the league leaders in offensive rebounding with 13.37 per game to the Raiders’ 13.35, and they won that battle, 17-15.
Bill Wampler had 16 points, Cole Gentry 11 and Trey Calvin 10.
“That’s a good win for us,” Gentry said. “They’ve got some tough dudes. (Naz) Bohannon and Loudon are the top two rebounders in the league, and Bohannon had four on offense. That’s right around his average. Sometimes you can’t simulate how hard those guys rebound.”
Homecoming: Former Wayne High School standout Darius Quisenberry, an all-league guard for YSU, had 19 points (four above his average) and six assists. But the sophomore started 0 of 5 from the field and finished 5 of 16, including 2 of 7 on 3’s.
“We didn’t get the win, but I’m proud of our guys. We fought hard. On to the next one,” Quisenberry said.
Tight tussle: After trailing by as many as 11 in the second half, the Penguins cut the gap to five and had the ball with just under two minutes to go.
But Love rejected a Garrett Covington shot at the rim, and Gentry hit a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left to usher the Raiders out of danger.
“We’ve got some guys who aren’t feeling good, but everybody else does, too. Those aren’t excuses,” Nagy said. “We’re just not very good offensively, but we’ve been better defensively these last two games. That’s what’s carried us.”
New look: Wright State wore camouflage uniforms to honor the military. They also wore them last year for the same promotion.
Coming up: The Raiders face Northern Kentucky (14-6, 6-2) at 9 p.m. Friday on ESPNU. The Norse beat visiting Cleveland State, 75-49, on Saturday for their fifth win in a row.
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