Wright State basketball: ‘Tentative’ second half costs Raiders in first Horizon League loss

Wright State guard Trey Calvin shoots against Green Bay during a men's basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED
Wright State guard Trey Calvin shoots against Green Bay during a men's basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED

Wright State coach Scott Nagy liked what he saw from his team in the first half against Oakland on Saturday, coming back from an early 17-point hole to take a three-point lead at the break.

Having won by 39 points the day before — and playing a foe that had dropped 10 of its first 12 games — another rout seemed to be brewing.

“I was very proud of the kids at halftime,” Nagy said. “We knew coming off (Friday’s) game, it would be tough, and it didn’t start out very well. But our kids did a good job of fighting and not giving in to discouragement.”

The Raiders carried that momentum into the second half, building a nine-point lead with 12:42 to go. But the Grizzlies out-scored the visitors, 35-16, after that for an 81-71 shocker.

Nagy thought his team lost the battle of wills, and he pointed to Oakland forward Trey Townsend’s rebounding effort as proof. Of the 6-foot-6 freshman’s nine boards, four came on the offensive end in that closing spurt.

“We had a chance to get several missed shots but just wouldn’t get them. They had one freshman who whipped us on the glass, and, in my opinion, that was the turning point of the game,” he said.

“We were very tentative. And when the game got tight, they just played harder. It’s not like there are a bunch of X’s and O’s you can (go to) when a team just plays harder than you.”

The Raiders (7-2, 5-1) could point to the difficulty of beating a team twice on consecutive days, but Nagy brushed that off.

Cleveland State (6-3, 6-0) swept IUPUI on the road over the weekend to take sole possession of first place in the Horizon League.

“It’s tough, but if you want to be special, you have to figure out how to do that. We’re not to that point right now,” Nagy said.

“We just need some people to take more responsibility. I’ll take the blame for that. If I can’t get our team ready to play, then it’s my fault. I can handle that.

“It’s a hard thing to do, but so what? It’s hard to be good.”

Along with ramping up their intensity, the Raiders, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped, need to take better care of the ball.

They had 19 turnovers in Saturday’s loss and 36 on the weekend.

The two players who have logged the most minutes, sophomore wing Tanner Holden (34.7 per game) and sophomore point guard Trey Calvin (31.3), have kept their miscues to a minimum with 13 and 16 turnovers, respectively.

But junior wing Jaylon Hall has 30 and senior center Loudon Love 27.

The Raiders have 134 for the year, their opponents 111.

“This team turns it over way more than I’m comfortable with,” Nagy said. “Nineteen turnovers are just way too many. Think about being able to take 19 more shots that we didn’t get. Even as poor a percentage as we shot (44.1%), it would’ve won the basketball game for us.”

The Raiders are learning how league opponents plan to defend them, giving extra attention to Love, the reigning conference player of the year, and frontcourt mate Grant Basile. But while that has led to a slew of open 3′s, they haven’t been knocking them down.

They were 7 of 25 in Saturday’s loss and a combined 17 of 59 for the weekend.

They’re shooting 33.2% on 3′s this season after hitting 36.1% in 2019-20.

“We just don’t have as good a shooting team right now as we did last year, and we didn’t shoot it well either night. But when you have open shots, you take them. You want your guys to have confidence,” Nagy said.

“That has nothing to do with why we lost the game. Zero. It just comes down to they played harder, and we didn’t take care of the ball.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Youngstown State at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN2, 106.5

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