That was one of many positive signs for the preseason Horizon League favorites, who would have put themselves in danger of falling out of the conference race with another setback.
They’re 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the league, two games behind first-place Cleveland State, which is a surprising 8-0 — their best start since joining the league in 1995.
The Vikings, who beat Northern Kentucky in overtime at home Saturday behind Trotwood-Madison grad Torrey Patton’s 18 points and 12 rebounds, visit the Raiders for a pair of games this weekend.
“I think we’re in a really good spot,” said Wright State’s Tanner Holden, who is averaging a team-best 17.1 points. “There are always things to work on. Definitely, defense is something we need to work on. I think we can be a great defensive team.
“Coach talks about that every game. He’s trying to get in our heads that defense wins ball games, not offense. If we do that, we’ll be a really, really special team.”
The Raiders are trending in the right direction. They have a plus-9.5 rebound margin per game, and they’re averaging 80.1 points while giving up just 66.1, leading the league in all three categories.
They’re also finally developing some depth. Though they played without three-year starter Jaylon Hall on Saturday — Nagy labeled Hall’s absence a “coach’s decision,” which means something other than a health reason — they put six players in double figures.
Holden had 24 points, Loudon Love 15 and Grant Basile and Tim Finke 11 each, while subs Alex Huibregtse and James Manns hit season highs in scoring with 12 and 11, respectively.
Andrew Welage, a freshman backcourt reserve like Huibregtse, played 14 minutes and had two points, two assists and five rebounds.
“We have to get those guys some minutes because we’re going to need them,” Nagy said. “We played our guys a lot of minutes (Friday). I don’t want to do that, particularly on these back-to-backs.”
Manns has been noticeably under-utilized — especially with his scoring prowess. The 6-7 junior was instant offense last season, tallying 142 points in 195 minutes (that’s an average of 29.1 points per 40 minutes).
“We’ve been telling James, ‘You’re going to see more time. We need you to get comfortable.’ And hopefully he will,” Nagy said. “The biggest thing we want him to focus on — which is everyone — is defense.
“They’ll get more comfortable on defense the more minutes they play, and it was important that all those guys got minutes in the first half. Those are very valuable minutes.”
The visit from Cleveland State normally would have the Nutter Center rocking. But, apart from a few dozen cardboard cutouts, the stands will be empty.
The Raiders have had trouble adjusting to the lack of buzz. They only lost twice at home in each of the previous three seasons but have already matched that total.
“It’s hard to play inspired with nobody sitting in the stands. You feel like every game is a scrimmage,” Nagy said.
“People bring energy, and when they’re not in the stands, it’s a different deal.”
Cleveland State at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPNU, 106.5