Wright State’s comfortable win at Toledo on Saturday was a practically perfect wrap-up to the non-conference season.
But coach Scott Nagy had a feeling his players were poised for a good showing because of how they prepared during the week.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and those practices were as good as I can remember,” he said on his post-game radio show. “We practiced less time, and I shut it down because I knew our guys were in a good spot.”
The Raiders might have even exceeded his expections, notching a 79-72 win to improve to 10-3 for their best 13-game start since also going 10-3 under late coach Ralph Underhill in 1989-90.
Freshman Tanner Holden soared to 27 points and 17 rebounds to help give the Raiders three victories in as many years over the Rockets, who were picked as the preseason MAC West favorites.
Holden went 9 of 10 from the field and was 8 of 8 until missing a dunk with 3:43 to go.
The program record for single-game field-goal percentage is 11 of 11, which was achieved by Bill Fogt against Cumberland on Jan. 24, 1972, and Sean Hammonds against Ashland on Feb. 28, 1990.
“Tanner was so good tonight, so active,” Nagy said. “It was phenomenal what he did. I’m so proud of him.”
Loudon Love made a surprise return to action and reclaimed his starting spot from Grant Basile, a redshirt freshman who had filled in admirably for the all-league center after he suffered a fractured elbow Nov. 26.
Expected to be out four to six weeks, Love made it back in three and a half.
He showed some rust but finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.
“Having Loudon back and being more physical in the middle — not getting backed down (defensively) — really helps us,” Nagy said. “I know offensively he wasn’t great. I wasn’t necessarily expecting him to be.
“But Loudon being able to play today will really help because it won’t be his first game coming back for Green Bay (in the Horizon League opener Saturday). He’ll be able to practice. He got on the floor (for loose balls) a couple times, and there was no concern at all.”
The Raiders were leading, 42-40, after giving up a layup to Willie Jackson with 12:36 to go, but they went on a 10-0 run in just over two minutes with Holden scoring eight, including a dunk.
They led by as many as 16, and the Rockets (8-4), who had their five-game home winning streak snapped, never threatened again.
Holden topped his previous high of 21 against Central State in the season-opener. The 6-6 wing’s 17 rebounds were the most for a freshman since Love had 19 in the 2017-18 season.
Senior point guard Cole Gentry chipped in 18 points.
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