Wright State physical, assertive in rout of Cleveland State

Wright State guard Jaylon Hall tries to score on Cleveland State guard D’Moi Hodge during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

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Wright State guard Jaylon Hall tries to score on Cleveland State guard D’Moi Hodge during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Raiders get weekend split vs. Horizon League leaders

FAIRBORN -- There isn’t anything Wright State coach Scott Nagy likes more from his players than getting to the foul line.

OK, dogged defense and robust rebounding are up there, too.

But he believes hefty free-throw totals almost always lead to success because they show his team is being physical and assertive.

The Raiders, though, had been somewhat soft on that front going into the weekend. They’d shot just 12.1 per game after averaging 15.6, 14.6, 14.8 and 17.1 attempts in Nagy’s first four seasons.

But that changed against Cleveland State. The Raiders made 38 of 48 and built a 20-point halftime lead on their way to an 85-49 victory Saturday, handing the Vikings their first Horizon League defeat.

In a 66-64 loss Friday, the Raiders were 17 of 25 from the foul line.

The Vikings, who lead the league with 9.6 steals per game, had 35 fouls, 21 in the second half.

“If you look at the stats, I think they foul more than anybody in the league,” Nagy said. “That’s how they cause turnovers. They’re very handsy and are always going after the ball. If you’re tough with the ball, they’ll foul you. That’s what happened tonight.”

Sophomore Tanner Holden was 11 of 16 on foul shots (setting career bests for makes and attempts) and had a game-high 23 points.

Senior Loudon Love, a 55.6% shooter, was 8 of 8 and had 10 points.

Sophomore Tim Finke was 6 of 8 and finished with 15.

And sophomore Grant Basile was 4 of 4 and had 13 points.

“It was definitely a physical game. They always come out ready, but I feel like we really stepped up physically and did a great job of not backing down,” Holden said. “We did a great job of getting 50-50 balls. That really helped us in a big way.”

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Wright State guard Tanner Holden races Cleveland State guard Craig Beaudion to the hoop during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Wright State guard Tanner Holden races Cleveland State guard Craig Beaudion to the hoop during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

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Wright State guard Tanner Holden races Cleveland State guard Craig Beaudion to the hoop during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Those smooth strokes from the stipe made up for some bricklaying from the field (37.5% Saturday) and allowed the Raiders to register their third straight weekend split.

All three followed the same script: an excruciating loss and one-sided win.

They’re 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the league at the halfway point and kept the first-place Vikings (9-4, 9-1) within reach.

They also lifted Nagy out of an emotional funk. He blamed himself for the two-point loss Friday, insisting he should have called a timeout to get his defense set after Holden tied the game with 4.2 seconds left.

Instead, the Vikings raced to the other end for the game-winning bucket with .7 seconds on the clock.

“I thanked the players for picking me up after the mistake I made,” said Nagy, who notched his 100th win at Wright State in his 147th game. “I was proud of the way they played. We took care of the ball. We were tougher. We held them to 27% (shooting), so I’m super proud of that.

“We just played hard. They knew I felt terrible about yesterday and making that mistake.”

After a stellar 17-point, eight-rebound showing in Friday’s win, Trotwood-Madison grad Torrey Patton scored just two points, going 1 of 6 from the field and 0 of 2 on foul shots. The senior forward led all rebounders, though, with 12.

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Wright State guard center Loudon Love tries to score against Cleveland State forward Deante Johnson during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Wright State guard center Loudon Love tries to score against Cleveland State forward Deante Johnson during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

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Wright State guard center Loudon Love tries to score against Cleveland State forward Deante Johnson during a Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Jan. 16, 2021. Wright State won 85-49. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Moving up: Loudon Love, who has scored in double figures each game this season (and never has had fewer than seven rebounds), passed Sean Hammonds (1990-94) for seventh on the all-time scoring list with 1,583 points.

Next up is former Alter High School great Bob Schaefer, a Wright State Hall of Famer who scored 1,634 from 1975-79.

Staying safe: The Raiders have played 13 straight games without a virus interruption. When a reporter mentioned how lucky they’ve been compared to some teams, Nagy said: “I’m not a big believer in luck.”

He added: “Some of those things are out of our control, but I think our players probably deserve credit for taking care of themselves and not being out too much. It’s not easy for a college kid to shelter at home all the time. And I think our guys have done a good job of not putting themselves in situations all the time where they’d have a chance to catch it.”

All Horizon League teams took a hit in the non-conference season, but Wright State, Cleveland State, Purdue Fort Wayne, Oakland Youngstown State and Green Bay have all played the maximum 10 league games.

Northern Kentucky has played eight, Milwaukee seven, UIC, IUPUI and Detroit Mercy six and Robert Morris five.

Now we know: You might have thought the cardboard cutouts in the Nutter Center were celebrities or others with no connection to the school.

Wrong.

You also may have thought there were only perhaps a few dozen in the stands. (Guilty)

Wrong again.

Associate athletic director Jeff Giles and his staff devised a system to create a little ambience while the conference isn’t allowing spectators.

Fans were able to place poster-sized likenesses of themselves at games for a minimum $50 donation (one supporter contributed $4,000). Some opted to put their kids or pets in the seats.

There’s also a section with former Raider coaches who parlayed their success into bigger jobs, including baseball coaches Greg Lovelady, Jeff Mercer and Rob Cooper and basketball coach Brad Brownell.

Fans received other goodies for their money, including an all-season program and facemask with a Raider logo.

Oh, and there are exactly 19.3 dozen cutouts, according to Giles.

FRIDAY’S GAME

Wright State at IUPUI, Noon, ESPN3, 106.5

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