Wright State took a season-best four-game winning streak to UIC and had a prime opportunity to gain ground in the Horizon League race Friday, knowing first-place Northern Kentucky had already suffered a loss earlier that night.
But the Raiders were hounded by the ultra-quick Flames into their worst shooting display of the season in a 67-53 defeat, falling to 12-11 overall, 6-4 in the conference and 3-9 in road and neutral-site games.
They were 16 of 57 (28.1 percent) from the field and 3 of 19 (16.7) on 3’s, and it was a team-wide meltdown.
Sophomore center Loudon Love, a preseason first-team all-league pick, had his ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. But he was 5 of 20 from the field, many of his misses coming from point-blank range.
Junior point guard Cole Gentry scored 10 points and went 4 for 4 from the foul line to extend his streak to 43 in a row, four off the school record. But he went 3 of 11 from the field and 0 of 5 on 3-pointers as the Raiders failed to generate much of anything from the outside.
UIC (10-11, 5-5) shot 46 percent from the field and 38.1 on 3’s.
“We’ve done this before where we were bad (offensively), but we didn’t let it affect us — like the Milwaukee game. But tonight, it affected us,” Nagy said on his post-game radio show. “We weren’t very good defensively when we needed to be. You could see it in our guys’ body language. They just couldn’t get past it.”
The Raiders have had only three other games where they’ve shot under 35 percent: home wins over Cedarville (31.8) and Milwaukee (34.0) and an overtime loss to UIC at the Nutter Center (32.1).
They stuck to their game plan of running their offense through Love, especially after seeing the Flames weren’t denying post passes. And though he tied his career-high in field-goal attempts — he had 20 shots at UIC as a freshman but connected on 10 in an 88-81 win — he couldn’t get untracked in 25 mostly forgettable minutes on the floor.
“If they’re going to play behind him — and we throw it in to him and he can’t score — we’re going to have a hard time winning,” Nagy said. “There’s obviously guys we’re leaning on and counting on pretty heavily. If they don’t play well, then we’re going to struggle.
“Loudon just couldn’t do it tonight. He wasn’t in a very good spot. I was hoping in the second half he could shake out of it, but he just couldn’t.”
Neither could the perimeter players. Gentry, Mark Hughes, Alan Vest and Skyelar Potter were a combined 5 of 22 from the floor and 1 of 13 on 3’s.
The Raiders shot 54.5 percent in a win over Green Bay on Saturday — their highest clip since hitting 55.2 in their season-opening victory against Western Carolina — but they scored just 22 points in the first half and never really threatened after halftime.
NKU dropped an 83-77 decision at IUPUI to fall to 8-2 in the league. But the Raiders stayed two games behind the Norse in the standings and are in a four-way tie with Oakland, Detroit Mercy and IUPUI, while Green Bay and UIC are another game back.
Nagy, though, said he’s too concerned about his team’s woes to worry about the conference race.
“Honestly, we’ve got so many guys playing so bad offensively,” he said. “They’ve either got to grow up — and get over themselves and move on — or we’re going to continue to struggle.”