Wright State was named the preseason Horizon League favorite for the second year in a row, and the players have vowed to handle those high expectations better than they did last season when they finished 21-14.
So far, so good.
Senior wing Bill Wampler scored 16 of his game-high 20 points after halftime, and the Raiders, who let a four-point lead slip away late in the game, rallied for an 85-80 overtime victory at Tennessee Tech on Tuesday.
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Freshman wing Tanner Holden had 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. And junior center Loudon Love, who played just 22 minutes because of foul trouble, finished with 17 points and 10 boards.
The Raiders (3-0) had a 50-32 rebounding edge in notching their second straight road win. They lost all six non-league games away from home last season.
But it took a challenge from coach Scott Nagy at halftime to get them going. They trailed, 31-27, at the break while making just 10 of 28 field goals (37.5 percent).
“In the first half, not only were we playing poorly, but our attitude was awful,” Nagy said on his post-game radio show. “The body language was bad, and everyone was acting like a bunch of big babies. I can be P.C. about it or I can tell you what it was — we just had a bunch of babies.
“I told them at halftime, ‘If you want to be a good team, these are the games you win. When things are going so awful and you’re on the road, you figure out a way to pull together instead of splintering.’ And our guys did that in the second half.”
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Love converted a three-point play for a 73-71 lead with 4:03 to go in regulation, and Holden scored on a put-back to make it 75-71 at 3:21.
But the Raiders didn’t score again. They held the ball for the last shot, but Cole Gentry, who had 11 points, couldn’t connect on a fadeaway jumper.
Wright State took a 78-75 lead with 3:43 left in OT on a 3 by Wampler. The Golden Eagles (1-2), who were picked to finish 10th in the 12-team Ohio Valley Conference, chiseled the margin to one, but Jaylon Hall scored on a put-back with 1:27 left, and Holden hit a jumper with 13 seconds to go to seal the win.
“I was so pleased with how Tanner played. To go get 14 rebounds — he’s so active and so athletic. And it was good to see Bill shoot the ball because we didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half,” Nagy said.
“One thing I wrote on the board before the game was, ‘You have to handle how teams view you. And teams view us as very good. It doesn’t matter where we go. Teams know this now. We’re not going to roll in and play like dogs and beat people. We’re not that talented.’ In the second half, we played hard.”
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