Wright State Raiders: Nagy looking at big picture despite winning streak

A 90-72 win over UIC on Thursday night put Wright State back at .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Tanner Holden led three Raiders (7-7) who scored in double digits as they ran their winning streak to five games and improved to 4-1 in the Horizon League.

ExploreGame recap

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. Wright State shot 59.6 percent from the floor.

The Raiders missed six of their first seven shots but had a hard time missing after that.

Grant Basile made 8 of his 11 field goals while fellow big man A.J. Braun was 3-for-4 and scored seven points.

With Basile and Braun handling things around the basket, point guard Trey Calvin scored 19 points and Holden poured in a game-high 26 scoring from all over the floor.

2. All Scott Nagy wanted to talk about after the game was defense.

The visitors made 13 of 29 shots from 3-point range (44.8 percent) and 28 of 60 from the floor (46.7 percent), figures that put the Wright State coach in a foul mood despite the 18-point win.

“We finally started to get some stops about seven or eight minutes into the game, and that helped us get the lead,” Nagy said. “You know, we were just so good offensively that it carried us, but it can’t carry us all the time. Not when you’re gonna go on the road and play good teams. Offense isn’t gonna carry you.”

3. The Raiders coach was happy they started the second half better than they had in close wins last weekend over Milwaukee and Green Bay.

After leading 42-35 at the half, the Raiders scored 10 of the first 12 points in the second half to put a stranglehold on the contest.

Basile hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to give Wright State its’ first double-digit lead then found Braun under the basket with a nifty pass out of a double team. Braun finished for a 12-point advantage, and Holden pushed the difference to 15 with an old-fashioned 3-point play.

“I’ve said this before: you don’t make runs unless you’re getting stops,” Nagy said. “I mean, you can’t. We got some stops there and we got out on the break and scored. We got to a free throw line, but that was the other thing at halftime. We just talked about the pattern that we established last week against Milwaukee and Green Bay is we got off to terrible starts in the second half, just very listless. Not a lot of energy and we ended up getting behind in both of those. And so we just talked about that. And so I think we broke that pattern at least. But you know, it’s all about defense. When we play great defense, we’re gonna score. We have good scorers.”

4. UIC was missing three players.

The Flames (4-8) had two games canceled last weekend because of COVID-19 protocols and had not played since a 61-60 win over Northern Illinois on Deck. 19.

They were without three players Thursday night, including leading scorer Damaria Franklin, something Nagy said the Raiders did not expect.

Kevin Johnson scored 19 points to lead the Flames, who got 18 from Zion Griffin and 11 from Filip Skobalj.

5. The Raiders are scheduled to play again Saturday.

Nagy said they still expect to host IUPUI at 2 p.m. Saturday despite the Jaguars’ game at Northern Kentucky on Thursday night being canceled due to COVID-19 implications within both programs.

IUPUI’s previous two games were canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases in the Jags’ program.

“From what I know, they’ve told us they’re coming,” Nagy said Thursday night. “So we’re planning on playing. They haven’t played in a while.”

That can make scouting a challenge, but it’s the way things are at this point in year two of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had no idea tonight,” Nagy said. “I mean, we were prepared for all their guys and three of them aren’t even here.

“It does make it hard to prepare, but everybody has the same thing. This is an odd, strange deal. We all know it has been the past two years, but the teams that handle it the best, that just deal with it and don’t use it as an excuse will do better.”

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