FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy was asked to give an opening comment at his post-game press conference after an epic double-overtime loss to Davidson, and, understandably, he had trouble deciding where to put his focus
He could have highlighted his team’s sensational first-half play while building a 21-point lead.
Or the defensive breakdowns in the second half that allowed the Wildcats to surge back.
He could have waxed on about his gifted point guard, Trey Calvin, who scored a career-high 37 points … Or highlight Calvin’s challenge in defending Davidson’s Foster Loyer, who tallied 38 in a thrilling back-and-forth duel.
His biggest takeaway, though, was his team’s scrappiness in the 102-97 defeat Wednesday — most notably after falling behind by seven with 1:42 to go in the first OT.
“We obviously did some things where I was impressed with our kids,” he said while fumbling with the stat sheet. “We found out a lot about our kids in terms of our fight.
“I told them before the game and after the game, ‘These seasons are marathons, they’re not sprints. And this is just a couple steps into it.’”
The Raiders scored 52 points in the first half and looked as if they’d waltz to a win. But the defending Atlantic 10 regular-season champs wouldn’t go away.
The Wildcats had just one lead in regulation — at 2-0 — and didn’t lead again until the first OT.
“I’m not sure we’ll play a better offensive team than that in terms of testing our defense — and I mean the rest of the year,” Nagy said. “We’re going to play some good teams, but offensively, they are an incredible challenge for us. We know we can play good basketball.”
No one in the crowd of 3,784 — which stood throughout the late stages of the game — would disagree.
At the end of the second half, Loyer, the nation’s leading foul shooter last season (93.7%), hit two free throws with 18 seconds to go to tie it, and Calvin missed a long-range jumper that would have won it.
Davidson had 2.6 seconds to go the length of the court. And after a timeout, Wright State’s Brandon Noel tipped the inbounds pass, which bounced right to Calvin. His potential game-winning 20-footer landed just long.
The Raiders looked to be out of it at the end of the first extra session, but they outscored the visitors, 7-0, in the final 102 seconds to tie the game. And after a turnover by Davidson, Calvin just missed a floater in the lane that would have ended it.
Trailing by four in the second OT, Amari Davis drove to a three-point play. But Loyer made a jumper, and after a Wright State miss, swished a 3 with 18 seconds to go to conclude the drama.
“The first half, we were dominant,” said Davis, who had 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in his debut as a Raider. “But in the second half, we’ve got to have that same mentality. Their best guy, we’ve got to lock in on him — not just whoever’s guarding him, but the whole team.”
Davidson, picked sixth in the league preseason poll, gave up more than 80 just twice last season: 84 to Richmond and 82 to Dayton.
And they had no answer for Calvin — at least until fatigue became a factor.
The 6-foot-1 senior was 12 of 27 from the field, 3 of 8 on 3′s and 5 of 5 from the foul line in regulation.
He finished 14 of 33, 3 of 10 and 6 of 6. Only one Raider last year topped 37 points — Tanner Holden, who had 38 in the NCAA First Four win over Bryant.
“I’m a veteran on this team, and playing a high-level team like this, I knew I had to be aggressive and confident and show the other guys we can play with them,” he said.
Like his coach, Calvin didn’t have a problem finding some positives, too.
“We didn’t know who we were as a team before this game,” he said. “But obviously, we can play with high level teams.”
It was the Raiders’ first double-OT game since a 74-66 win at Cleveland State on Feb. 18, 2017.
It was the most points they’ve given up since a 103-66 loss to Toledo on Dec. 22, 2003.
They had allowed a foe to reach triple digits only one other time since then: a 100-55 loss to Ohio State on Dec. 27. 2014.
But they likely will be buoyed by their effort with a trip to Louisville looming Saturday.
“I don’t walk away from this — yeah, it hurts — but I’m encouraged by our kids,” Nagy said.
“Obviously, it doesn’t feel good to lose in double overtime, to spend that much emotional energy, and we have to bounce back and play in a couple days. We’ve got to get by it quickly and get ready for Louisville.”
Wright State at Louisville, 1 p.m., ESPN+, 980
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