Nothing he did, though, could keep the Raiders from dropping their fifth Horizon League home game in six starts. Cleveland State built a 16-point halftime lead, stretched it to 22 early in the second half and withstood a late push for an 85-77 victory Saturday.
“The first half again — same story,” Nagy said of yet another slow start by his team. “You can ask me why, but I don’t have an answer.”
His players were equally flummoxed.
“We were in a really good mood leading into the game. We could feel it. We had energy,” senior Tim Finke said.
“We talked about it in pre-game. When they make the first punch, we’ve got to respond.”
The Raiders, though, had 11 turnovers in the first 11:32 and finished with 17 — their fourth straight game with at least 17.
Redshirt freshman forward Brandon Noel had another strong game with 16 points and six rebounds, but he also had a team-high six turnovers.
“Playing in the post is tough. There are a lot of hands around there for deflections,” he said. “But for me personally, I’ve got to stop playing so lax. I feel I’m taking it too easy out there, and that’s hurting me in turnovers.”
Trey Calvin, who had a career-high nine turnovers in his last outing, had just three against the Vikings and led a second-half rally that put a charge into the crowd of 4,054.
He scored 15 of his game-high 24 points after halftime, and the Raiders ripped off 16 consecutive points in one stretch, cutting a 64-43 deficit with 13 minutes left to 64-59 with 9:14 to go.
A Finke 3 made it 68-64 with 6:30 left.
“They missed a few shots and got a little tight and took some shots they don’t normally take — and missed those, too,” Nagy said.
The Vikings had a chance to make it a 10-point game when Deante Johnson was free under the basket. But he missed a wide-open dunk at 3:46, and the Raiders made one more surge to climb within four again.
But Wayne grad Deshon Parker, who had 15 points in his homecoming, converted a 1-and-1 with 43 seconds left. And the Raiders’ Keaton Norris missed a contested shot inside to end the drama.
The Vikings shot 70.4% in the first half and 58.5% for the night.
The Raiders squandered a solid showing from the field (25 of 52 for 48.1%) and the foul line (21 of 23 for 91.3%).
They fell to 11-10 overall and 4-6 in the league, while CSU improved to 12-9, 7-3.
“There’s still a long way to go. We’re not in there panicking,” Nagy said with a nod to the locker room.
“I think their heads are in the right place. But there’s obviously things we have to get fixed.”
Milwaukee at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980