Wright State coach Scott Nagy rarely seems to rip into his players. He’s more John Wooden than Bobby Knight that way. But he didn’t hold back when he called a timeout after just 67 seconds of the second half against Morehead State.
The Eagles had finished the first half on an 8-0 run for a three-point lead and then scored the first two baskets after halftime. The Raiders have had season-long lapses on defenses, and the red-faced Nagy didn’t plan to let it go on without speaking his mind.
“We’re just not getting any stops, and I’m tired of watching it,” he said.
“I don’t like to play zone, but we may have to start doing some of that because we’re just not stopping people with regularity at all. It’s not even average. It’s bad. We are clearly a bad defensive team right now.”
Though the Raiders never really did get the Eagles stopped — the visitors shot 50.9 percent from the field and had 38 points in the paint — that timeout propelled them to an 11-0 surge on their way to a 78-67 victory before 3,133 fans Tuesday. They put together a 47-point second half while snapping a five-game losing streak against Division-I foes.
“He called that timeout and got into us, and that really helped because we were ready to go after that,” senior guard Mark Hughes said. “He told us we have to play a lot harder and how that wasn’t the start we’re capable of. Starts to the half are very important to us because our first halves all year have not been great. He focused on us giving energy to each other.”
Loudon Love had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Cole Gentry and Bill Wampler had 18 points each.
“Nothing we’re doing comes easy right now,” Nagy said. “I don’t know how many times they shot the ball right next to the basket. Offensively, we can’t make layups and can’t make wide-open 3’s.
“But after we called timeout in the second half, our kids really responded. From the 17-minute mark to the 12-minute mark, they made several plays — offensive rebounds and hustle plays to get the lead back for us.”
Here are five takeaways from the game:
Battered and bruised: Love limped off the floor with 2:31 to go and went to the trainer’s room. He had a splint on his left ankle after the game but said he didn’t think the injury was serious.
Gentry had a swollen left eye and the makings of a shiner after getting elbowed with 11:06 left in the game. The contact came when he went up to block a fastbreak layup by A.J. Hicks that would have cut the Raiders’ lead to 49-48. Hicks was called for an offensive foul.
Solid floor game: The 6-foot-3 Hughes had just three points but notched eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists with two turnovers in 30 minutes.
“He’s always been a great defender, and he’s always been a great rebounding guard when he puts his mind to it,” Nagy said. “Sometimes, he doesn’t go in and stick his nose in there, but, tonight, he did.”
Another slow start: The Raiders have been plagued by poor first halves of late, and they continued that trend against the Eagles. They built a 13-point lead but couldn’t sustain it, and they trailed, 34-31, at halftime when Hicks swished a 3-pointer from just inside midcourt at the buzzer.
Showing confidence: Love was shooting just 41.1 percent on foul shots through the first 10 games, making 17-of-37 attempts, but he’s gone 10-of-11 in his last two outings, including 7-of-8 against Morehead State.
He’s now shooting 53.3 percent after connecting at a 54.1 clip last season.
Coming up: The Raiders face No. 16 Mississippi State (9-1) in Jackson, Miss., at 7 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network.