Playing against a lightly regarded NAIA team Thursday, Wright State players looked as if they were running in sand during the opening 16 minutes.
Part of that sluggishness can be excused since it’s finals week at the school. But the Raiders have spotted opponents big leads in eight of 11 games this year, and coach Scott Nagy isn’t sure how to help them overcome their first-half doldrums.
“We talked about it after the game, and I don’t know if we need to do something different in terms of our warmups. I’m not going to go in and give it the big Knute Rockne speech. I told them that, and they all looked at me (confused) because they don’t know who Knute Rockne is,” Nagy said.
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“I explained to them that basketball is different than football. We’re playing almost 35 games, so it’s not going to be a big emotional speech before every game. It’s important that players learn how to get themselves ready emotionally.”
Trailing by five late in the first half, the Raiders were dominant after that while rolling to a 91-52 victory over Northwestern Ohio.
They went on a 29-5 run over the first 9:31 of the second half and forced the Racers (4-9) into 20 total turnovers.
Freshman sub Skyelar Potter led the way with 17 points. Cole Gentry had 12, and Bill Wampler and Mark Hughes 10 each.
The Raiders (5-6) started 3-of-20 from the field and shot 10-of-36 (27.8 percent) in the first half. They were much better after halftime, going 23-of-42 (54.8).
Here are five takeaways:
Hitting the books: Nagy would like not to play during finals week, but that’s not realistic since teams have a limited time to get non-league games in.
But Gentry said he didn’t have any trouble balancing hoops and academics.
“That’s part of being a college basketball player. You’ve got to take care of your business throughout the semester so exam week isn’t as stressful for you,” he said.
Bench help: With the starters unable to get untracked, Nagy gave extended minutes to freshman backcourt subs Malachi Smith and Potter and reserve post Parker Ernstahusen.
Potter was his usual bouncy self with a handful of acrobatic dunks. Ernsthausen finished with eight points and nine rebounds, and Smith had nine points and eight boards.
Protecting the rim: The Raiders had trouble with 7-foot-2 Ander Perez. Though he finished with a modest four points and nine rebounds, he had two blocks and altered several shots.
He’s as thin as a sign post, but his size caused the 6-9, 280-pound Loudon Love to make an extra pump-fake or two and threw him off. He started 1-for-9 from the field and finished with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
“(Perez) played behind him and made it hard for Loudon to score over him. He didn’t get off to a very good start. We didn’t need him to play well in order to win this game. But we obviously need him to play better than he did,” Nagy said.
“Loudon is working hard. He’s going to get himself where he needs to be.”
Women’s basketball: Freshman Anisja Harris came off the bench to score 24 points and junior Michal Miller had 18 to help the Wright State women’s team improve to 8-3 with an 83-53 win over Division-II Kentucky State in a matinee at the Nutter Center on Thursday.
Harris, a 5-9 guard from Gahanna, Ohio, was 8-of-11 on 3s while playing 19 minutes. In the team’s previous 10 games, she had played only 66 minutes while scoring 15 points.
Coming up: The Wright State men host Morehead State (3-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday and conclude their non-league schedule at No. 17 Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22.