Wright State won a game at Tennessee Tech last week it easily could have lost. Coach Scott Nagy recognized that, lauding his team afterward for overcoming subpar play and finding a way to pull out an 85-80 overtime victory.
But the Kent State game Saturday had the opposite feel. The Raiders played well almost from start to finish, taking their first lead at 16:38 of the first half and staying in front until the final 10 seconds. They crumbled down the stretch, though, and were dealt a 72-71 home defeat.
That’s a result that could sting for a while. And Nagy wants to make sure his players don’t let it linger.
“Life certainly doesn’t end. We talked about that after the game,” he said.
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“The big question is, not whether you won or lost, but how do you respond to it? That will be the question for our guys, making sure they don’t get down. You just have to bounce back.”
The Raiders will get a chance to do just that when they host Division-II Urbana at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The game is part of the Gulf Coast Showcase, an event designed for mid-major programs.
The field also includes Murray State, Weber State, La Salle, Miami, Drake, Northeastern and South Alabama. After an optional home game for the participants, an eight-team tournament will start Monday in Estero, Fla.
The Raiders (3-1) — who were outscored by Kent State, 13-3, in the final 2:29 — had plenty of reasons to feel good about their performance before the late collapse.
Sophomore wing Jaylon Hall, who is fighting back after sitting out all by one game last season with a torn labrum, had his best outing of the year with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
He made three of four 3-pointers, which hasn’t been his forte. He went 33 of 103 in 33 games from the arc as a freshman in 2017-18 and 0-2 in his only game last season.
Asked if that was a confidence boost, Hall said: “My confidence has always been there. It was just more about my teammates trusting me with those shots and giving them to me. I’m going to use this as a building block.”
His fellow Raiders were certainly liked what they saw.
“Jay has worked really hard to get better from his freshman year to now,” said senior wing Bill Wampler. “He’s shooting the ball tremendously now. It’s good to see somebody who works hard be able to play well and knock down shots.”
Wampler had a team-high 18 points against the Golden Flashes and showed he can produce buckets in the clutch.
Though he missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, he scored 11 points in the final 10:02, including two free throws with 35 seconds left to give the Raiders a 70-66 lead.
He also had 16 of his game-high 20 points against Tennessee Tech after halftime.
“I’m a senior, and I try to lead as best I can. I’m not as vocal a leader as Cole (Gentry) or Jordan (Ash). But I try to lead with my play,” Wampler said. “The first play of the game, I dived on the floor for a loose ball. That’s more my role as a leader.”
The Raiders will need Wampler to help set the tone the rest of the season.
“We just have to finish games. We played real well in the first half defensively. Offensively, we were making shots. It was the best we probably played all year — until the end of the game,” he said.
“We made a lot of mistakes, and we’ve got to correct those, learn from them and move on. It’s still early in the season. We have a lot of games left to play.”
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