Wright State basketball: Raiders prevail again despite sluggish spells

Wright State is capable of having long stretches of horrid play — the kind that sends coach Scott Nagy into animated disgust while prowling the sidelines.

The Raiders had more turnovers (three) than buckets (two) in the opening six minutes Friday against visiting Milwaukee — picked 10th in the Horizon League preseason poll — and would have been happy just reaching mediocrity at that point.

But when they get their offense humming, and pair that with their usual miserly defense, they show just how big the gap is between them and the rest of the league.

After sputtering for most of the half, they scored 15 points in the final 3:43, getting 3′s from Gant Basile, Tim Finke and Jaylon Hall — the last just before the halftime buzzer for a 42-28 lead.

They never could put the Panthers away, but they weren’t really threatened after that on their way to a 92-81 victory.

“We were frustrated in the first half. Offensively, in the first 10 minutes, we weren’t very good,” Nagy said. “But I thought our guys did a great job of working through that.

“To be up by 14 was tremendous. I was really happy at halftime. That was the difference in the game. In the second half, we just traded blow for blow.”

The Raiders (16-4, 14-3) held the Panthers to two points over the last 6:28. The visitors were 1 of 7 from the field and committed four turnovers in that span.

But the defense disappeared during Milwaukee’s 53-point, second-half barrage.

The Raiders racked up 50 themselves, going 18 of 24 from the field, but that 20-minute shootout gnawed at Nagy.

“It’s hard for me, I’ll be honest with you. It eats me up inside,” he said.

“It’s frustrating. I haven’t felt that way very often this season, but I felt that way in the second half. Fortunately, we shot 75%, and sometimes you need that. I don’t like it, but tonight that got it done for us.”

The Raiders have won eight conference games in a row, matching the second longest streak in program history. Their all-time record is 10 in 2007-08.

They entered the game eighth in country in scoring margin at 17.4 points per game. While that took a bit of a hit, they still have had only one win by single digits this season (a 79-70 victory over Robert Morris).

Loudon Love had 21 points to move past Vernard Hollins, who played from 2000-04, into fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,715 points. Next up is Keion Brooks (1995–99) at 1,766.

He also had nine rebounds. He’s averaging 24 points and 10.5 boards in his last four games.

Milwaukee was aggressive defensively, double-teaming post players. That contributed to Love having seven turnovers for the second straight game, but it gave the Raiders open looks, and they were 11 of 22 on 3′s.

Tanner Holden had 17 points, Basile 15 and Hall 14.

Trey Calvin went 0 of 7 in the first half but had 10 points after halftime. The sophomore point guard also had seven assists.

DeAndre Gholston had 29 points for Milwaukee (7-9, 6-8), which has lost four of its last five games. All-league guard Te’jon Lucas picked up his fourth foul with 16:33 to go and played only 22 minutes, scoring six points.

The Raiders hit 11 of 12 free throws in the first half but went 8 of 14 after halftime.

Their lukewarm performance probably can be chalked up to the Friday Night Blues.

On the opening night of back-to-back weekend league games, the Raiders have lost in the final second to Youngstown State and Cleveland State while winning three times by an average of 11.3 points.

“These Friday night games have been tough for us,” Love said. “We’re not at the top of the league — that’s where Cleveland state sits — but we’re right there with them. And I think on Friday nights, we’re getting a team’s best shot and most energy.

“I know how it is. They work all week, and you’re ready to play no matter who it is. We’ve had a hard time grasping that people really are going to come out and give us all they’ve got.”


Milwaukee at Wright State, 3 p.m., ESPN3, 106.5

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