Wright State basketball: Raiders stay perfect on road with win at IUPUI

Wright State’s Bill Wampler, shown earlier this season, hit 10 of 11 shots Friday night on his way to 26 points in the Raiders’ win at IUPUI. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics
Wright State’s Bill Wampler, shown earlier this season, hit 10 of 11 shots Friday night on his way to 26 points in the Raiders’ win at IUPUI. Joseph Craven/WSU Athletics

Wright State coach Scott Nagy knows the key to winning conference titles is to fare well in opposing gyms. And while the Horizon League race may be a long way from being settled, the Raiders are following the formula they need to finish on top.

Going into their game at IUPUI on Friday, Nagy said: “Road games are the hardest ones to win for sure. But if you can do it, you get an upper hand on the people who are struggling to do it. That’s how you win the conference championship. Average teams win at home, and good teams win on the road.”

The Raiders notched their eighth straight victory and remained the only unbeaten team in the league after handling the Jaguars, 84-70, behind Bill Wampler’s hot night. The senior wing went 10 of 11 from the field, including 5 of 5 on 3’s, while finishing with 26 points, one off his season high.

Junior center Loudon Love racked up 20 points (on 8-of-18 shooting) and 15 rebounds, giving him 43 points and 35 rebounds in his last two games. He also had four blocks.

Freshman wing Tanner Holden had 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals as the Raiders improved to 15-3 overall and 5-0 in the league, including 3-0 on the road.

They shot only 42 percent from the field but held their hosts to 33.3.

“Defensively, we were sharp. That’s where I’m most concerned. I felt like we did our job, and you can see what it did for us,” Nagy said on his post-game radio show.

The Raiders built a 53-31 halftime lead, going 8 of 14 on 3’s (they finished 9 of 23).

They tied their highest-scoring half of the season, matching their output against Oakland last week. The last time they surpassed that was a 58-point effort against Northwestern Ohio last season.

IUPUI (5-13 1-4) cut the lead to 68-55 with 10:25 to go, but Wright State scored eight straight points after that to put the game away.

Still, Nagy said: “The second half, we were an absolute mess. All we did was foul and miss free throws. We should’ve scored 100 points. I’m just concerned about our free-throw shooting in a big game. It’s going to come back to bite us.”

The Raiders were 17 of 32 on foul shots and went into the game 226th in the nation at 68.2 percent.

“The thing is, I’m part of the problem. The players can feel how much it’s bothering me. I’m not helping the situation,” Nagy said.

“When we get leads like that, our guys do things they normally wouldn’t do them, and I immediately get angry. I make things worse. After every game, I have to walk in and ask the players to forgive me for my negativity.”

The Raiders are 6-0 on the road and 8-1 away from home this season. That’s their best start in true road games as a Division-I team (since 1987), and it tied their best start in the 40-year history of the program.

They haven’t been feasting on lightweights, either. They previously knocked off Miami, Tennessee Tech, Toledo, Oakland and Detroit Mercy.

They also began 6-0 in their third year in 1972-73, beating Kenyon, Northern Kentucky, Marietta, Cleveland State, Kenyon (again) and Rose-Hulman. They’ve never started 7-0.

Their previous best road start in D-I was 2-0 in 2012-13 and 2000-01.

Sunday’s game

Wright State at UIC, 1 p.m., ESPN+, 106.5-FM