Wright State loses at home to Akron, falls to 2-7

Wright State's Grant Basile shoots a free throw during a game earlier this season. Basile scored 11 points vs. Akron on Wednesday at the Nutter Center. Joe Craven/Wright State Athletics

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Wright State's Grant Basile shoots a free throw during a game earlier this season. Basile scored 11 points vs. Akron on Wednesday at the Nutter Center. Joe Craven/Wright State Athletics

FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy has been on a mission to get his team to dig deeper on defense, and he saw some positive signs against Akron.

But while the players did seem much more locked in Wednesday — maybe getting a boost from playing at home for the first time in five weeks — a 66-48 loss showed their issues aren’t contained to just one end of the floor.

The Raiders (2-7) were plodding along at a point-per-minute clip for much of the night. They shot 37.3% from the floor, including 3 of 15 on 3′s, and made only 7 of 12 free throws.

They also were credited with just four assists on the way to their lowest point total since losing, 73-47, to Tennessee in the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Leading 35-23 at halftime, the Zips (7-3) scored the first six points of the second half and were never threatened again. Much of the crowd of 3,503 didn’t stick around for the finish.

“Defensively, we’re close. But offensively, we didn’t give ourselves a chance,” Nagy said.

“We had three straight possessions (at the end of the first half) where we missed a layup and two front ends of 1-and-1′s. That cost us six points. So, we were down 12 instead of six, and it changes the game and how the kids feel about themselves.”

The Raiders have scored fewer than 30 points in an opening half just nine times in the last three seasons. Four, though, have come in nine games this year.

They amassed only 17 by halftime in a 96-52 thrashing at Purdue and 28 in losses to Long Beach State and George Washington in the Naples Invitational

“In the first half, we had opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of,” Nagy said. “That’s not what our offense should look like — very little passing and a lot of guys trying to make plays by themselves. That’s not how we play.”

Tanner Holden, a first-team All-Horizon League pick last season, had a team-high 12 points of 5-of-13 shooting. But the junior wing looked sluggish, picking up just four rebounds and committing three turnovers.

He said the game plan was to be the aggressor, but that didn’t materialize.

“We didn’t come physically ready to play,” he said. “You can’t have an off night against a good team physically and mentally. We had that tonight, and the score showed it.”

Junior forward Grant Basile, a preseason first-team all-league pick, had 11 points (seven below his average) and went 4 of 14 from the field.

He finished 0 of 3 on 3′s and is 5 of 36 this year. He was 20 of 42 last season.

“Fortunately for us, they missed some shots,” Akron coach John Groce said.

“The one big kid (Basile) is a load offensively. Last year, he shot 47% from 3 and made one per game roughly. Tonight, he just didn’t make them, and he hasn’t early on. Once he does, he’ll make them that much more of a difficult cover. He’ll find his way.”

The Raiders, who returned four starters, went into the game averaging .966 points per possession, which is 210th out of 358 Division-I teams. Last year, they were ninth nationally at 1.109.

“I didn’t think scoring would be a problem for us, but it has been,” Nagy said. “I thought we’d broken that once we got into league play (scoring a combined 160 points in their first two outings) because we were really good offensively.

“But I spent so much time on defense these last eight days, maybe I’m the one who broke it.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Tennessee Tech at Wright State, 2 p.m., ESPN+, 103.9

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