Wright State may not have seemed like a Horizon League contender after posting a losing record in the non-conference season and getting off to its worst three-game start in the league in 11 years at 1-2.
But the Raiders seem to be peaking at the right time after finishing a grueling five-game road stretch with back-to-back victories, including an 89-66 rout of Cleveland State on Saturday.
They improved to 10-10 overall and 4-3 in the conference, two games out of first place, while notching their most lopsided win against a Division-I opponent this season.
“There’s no question we’ve been struggling, but our kids have fought back to 10-10. We go three out of five on this five-game road swing, which gives us a chance, without question, with the next seven out of nine at home,” coach Scott Nagy said on his post-game radio show.
“I know our players are excited. We did what we needed to do for sure.”
Leading 41-31 at halftime, the Raiders had a turnover to start the second half and then scored on 14 straight possessions to build a 73-43 lead. They matched their highest output in a regulation road game since scoring 100 at UIC in 1999.
After setting a school record for most free throws without a miss by going 18 of 18 against Youngstown State on Thursday, the Raiders went 29 of 32 against the Vikings (5-16, 0-8).
Sophomore center Loudon Love had a season-high 23 points, going 8 of 12 from the field. He also had eight rebounds and went 7 of 8 on foul shots.
He increased his free-throw percentage to 61.4 percent. He’s made 19 of 25 (76 percent) on the road.
Bill Wampler had 21 points, making 11 of 12 foul shots. Since moving to a sub role, the junior wing has averaged 16.5 points in six games while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. He averaged 14.5 points and shot 36.2 percent in the first 14 games.
Junior point guard Cole Gentry had 14 points and three assists. He went 2 of 2 on foul shots and has made 35 in a row, 12 short of the school record.
“We shot too many 3’s in the first half (going 3 of 14),” Wampler said on the 106.5-FM post-game show. “We tried to get high-percentage shots in the second half. Some of the 3’s we missed in the second half were still really good shots for us. But we wanted to pound the ball inside to Loudon — get inside the 10-foot zone and get to the free-throw line.”
Tyree Appleby, a preseason first-team all-league pick, missed the Vikings’ game Thursday because of an illness. He had eight points, 11 below his average, and made only 2 of 8 field goals.
“The best thing we did today was get to the free-throw line — we went 47 of 50 on the weekend,” Nagy said.
“You get to the free-throw line that many times, you’re going to win. It’s why our points-per-possession were incredibly high in this game. Defensively, we really weren’t that good. You win by 23 and think you must’ve played good defense. We were very average defensively. But offensively, we were really good.”
The Raiders swept both games on their Northeast Ohio swing for the third time in four years.
They’ll go for their first three-game winning of the season at home against Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Milwaukee at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 106.5-FM