Wright State: 3 score in double digits as Raiders top UIC

Wright State's Tanner Holden goes in for a dunk over Tafari Simms off a Milwaukee turnover early in Thursday night's game at the Nutter Center. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Wright State's Tanner Holden goes in for a dunk over Tafari Simms off a Milwaukee turnover early in Thursday night's game at the Nutter Center. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Wright State took care of business Thursday night with a 90-72 win over UIC at the Nutter Center on Thursday night.

The visiting Flames (4-8, 0-2 Horizon) came out hot to start the game, but the Raiders (7-7, 4-1) battled back by the midpoint of the first half and controlled the action the rest of the way for their fifth consecutive win.

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Tanner Holden poured in 26 points to lead all scorers while Grant Basile had 21 and Trey Calvin added 19 for the Raiders.

Wright State trailed 7-0 early but came back to tie it at 11 on a pair of Basile free throws.

The teams traded baskets for a few possessions before Keaton Norris started a 9-0 Wright State run with a 3-pointer from the corner.

A.J. Braun, Basile and Calvin all added buckets in the spurt as the Raiders opened up a 28-20 lead.

The Raiders led by as many as nine in the first half, but UIC’s Kevin Johnson hit a jumper from the elbow at the first half buzzer to send the teams to the locker rooms at 42-35.

Wright State ended up shooting 58.6 percent from the floor in the first half, including 4 of 12 from 3-point range, while UIC went 15 for 31 (48.4 percent).

The Raiders were even better on the offensive end in the second half, hitting 60.7 percent of their shots and finishing at 59.6 for the game.

However, Wright State coach Scott Nagy lamented the hosts’ defense after the game.

“Offensively, we were good offensively, and so you can cover some of that up, but you know if we’re ever gonna win a conference championship, we’ve got to play better defense,” Nagy said. “That’s what I’m trying to get to. I don’t like our starts. Five conference games that we’ve played, our starts have been awful in all five of them.”

Unlike the first half, Wright State came out hot in the second, scoring 10 of the first 12 points in the stanza to put a stranglehold on the contest.

Basile hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to give Wright State its’ first double-digit lead, then he found Braun under the basket with a nifty pass out of a double team.

Braun finished for a 12-point advantage, and Holden pushed the different to 15 with an old-fashioned 3-point play.

The Raiders eventually stretched the lead out to 20, but the Flames pulled to within 10 on a fall-away 3-pointer by Zion Griffin with 4:25 to go.

That was as close as they would get, though.

Holden stopped the bleeding with a basket to start a game-ending 10-2 run in which he had six, Tim Finke had two and Basile had a pair.

“Obviously, you like to win and do all that,” Nagy said. “Scoring is great, but you’re just not going to win championships outscoring people.”

Johnson scored 19 points to lead the Flames, who were missing leading scorer Damaria Franklin, fellow starter Michael Diggins and reserve Jalen Warren because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Flames were playing their first game since Dec. 19.

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