Wright State falls on road as NKU finishes strong

Wright State's Tanner Holden drives past NKU's Marques Warrick during a game last season at NKU. The Norse topped the Raiders on Tuesday night.. Joseph Craven/Wright State Athletics

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Wright State's Tanner Holden drives past NKU's Marques Warrick during a game last season at NKU. The Norse topped the Raiders on Tuesday night.. Joseph Craven/Wright State Athletics

Wright State coach Scott Nagy has been telling anyone who would listen that his team couldn’t keep winning without picking it up on defense.

If his players weren’t convinced of that, those reservations were erased in a 73-63 loss at Northern Kentucky on Tuesday.

The Norse shot 50.8% from the field and outscored the Raiders, 12-2, in the final five minutes for their third straight victory.

“We’ve been good offensively, let’s face it, but you’re going to have a game when you’re not,” Nagy said on his postgame radio show. “We weren’t good offensively (shooting 40% from the field), and that’s when you need your defense to be good enough. We haven’t been good enough most of the year, and we weren’t tonight.”

Tanner Holden, who was named Horizon League player of the week Monday, continued his strong play with 22 points and nine rebounds. The junior wing became the 21st Raider to reach 500 career rebounds last week.

Tim Finke scored 12 points. And Grant Basile, drawing extra attention inside against NKU’s zone, finished with nine points (nine below his average) and 11 rebounds. He was 4 of 12 from the field.

Senior guard Marques Warrick, a preseason second-team all-league pick for the Norse, led all scorers with 23. The league’s 2020-21 freshman of the year went 9 of 16 from the field and 4 of 8 on 3′s.

The Raiders had won nine of their previous 10 games but fell to 11-9 overall and 8-3 in the league.

“We had a golden opportunity,” Nagy said. “They didn’t have a great crowd in here. They were flat, and we were flatter.”

Tied at 61-all on a Holden jumper with 5:20 to go, the Norse (9-9, 5-4) scored five straight points while the Raiders missed five consecutive shots, including three on one possession.

Basile ended the drought with a bucket that made it 66-63 with 2:13 to go.

After the teams traded empty possessions, Warrick hit a dagger, making a 3 for a 69-63 lead with 1:19 left. The Norse were 8 of 22 beyond the arc.

The Raiders had openings outside but went only 7 of 23 on 3s. They also had an untidy 16 turnovers while ending their five-game road swing with a 3-2 record.

The Norse started 11 of 20 from the field and built a 32-20 lead with 4:40 to go in the first half.

But the Raiders finished the half on a 14-3 run, cutting the gap to 35-34 on a 3 by Trey Calvin with 11 seconds left.

They took a three-point lead early in the second half, but the Norse regained their footing and took advantage of defensive lapses after that.

TIME CHANGE: Wright State moved up its tipoff time for Sunday’s home game with Purdue Fort Wayne to noon to avoid a conflict with the Cincinnati Bengals playing in the AFC Championship game, which starts at 3 p.m.

FRIDAY’S GAME

Cleveland State at Wright State, 9 p.m., ESPNU, 980

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