Wright State coach Scott Nagy realized he was taking a gamble by holding Senior Day ceremonies after the game Saturday, knowing enthusiasm at the Nutter Center would plummet if the team happened to lose to Youngstown State.
But he wanted to have ample time to give his upperclassmen a fitting send-off. And any concerns about the mood at the festivities were erased by the Raiders’ dominant start.
They hit eight of their first 12 three-pointers while building a 49-24 first-half lead on their way to an 82-54 victory before 5,743 fans. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games to improve to 18-11 overall and 12-4 in the Horizon League.
Sophomore center Loudon Love had a career-high 26 points, and all four seniors scored: Mark Hughes 14, Alan Vest seven, Parker Ernsthausen two and Adam Giles one.
They’re the winningest class in the Division-I era at Wright State (since 1987) with 85 victories and counting, and Nagy, who is in his third year, is grateful they’ve provided such a solid foundation.
“I said to them earlier, ‘We’ve had those guys for three years, and I’ve made enough mistakes in three years to last me a lifetime of coaching, and those guys have had to endure it.’ I’m thankful they all stayed. I’m thankful they all fought through the transition. They’ve helped us get to where we are,” he said.
The Raiders have scored at least 81 points in their last four games while shooting 49.2 percent or better from the field.
They finished 9 of 21 on 3-pointers with Hughes getting four and Cole Gentry three. The Penguins (12-18, 8-9) went 4 of 18.
“If we shoot the ball, it changes things. It opens up things for Loudon, and we saw that tonight,” Nagy said.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound Love overpowered the Penguins, going 10 of 15 from the field and 6 of 6 from the foul line.
“I posted hard, and the guys looked for me the entire game. Our game plan, because they’re physical, was to look inside a lot,” he said.
The Raiders, who shot 58.1 percent in the first half, can finish no worse than a tie for first if they win their last two games against Green Bay and Milwaukee on the road. They also can end up with the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney and clinch at least an NIT berth, although they have higher aspirations than that.
They’ve secured a home game in the league quarterfinals (the semis and finals will be played in Detroit). They’re 14-2 at the Nutter Center.
Darius Quisenberry, a freshman guard from Wayne High School, had a 37-point game against UIC last week and leads the Penguins in scoring (13.8) and assists (3.7). He was held to eight points and after scoring 18 against the Raiders in the first meeting.
Wright State at Green Bay, 8 p.m., ESPN+, 106.5