FAIRBORN — Loudon Love endured a bit of a slump during the first half of the season, even commenting to coach Scott Nagy about how much he was bothered by his play.
But the 6-foot-8 senior center turned it on in the all-important stretch run, averaging 22.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in the last seven games as Wright State claimed a share of its third straight Horizon League title.
He was honored with his second consecutive conference player of the year award Monday, the first player to win it in back-to-back seasons since Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes in 2014-15.
The Geneva, Ill., native nearly averaged a double-double in 20 conference games with averages of 17.9 points and 9.9 rebounds. He had 12 double-doubles in 23 games this season overall, which is tied for fourth in the country.
“For our coaching staff, he’s been a Godsend,” Nagy said. “He came in with us (five years ago) and, obviously, he sat out a year and got in shape, and you can see what we’ve done the last four years.”
The Raiders (18-5, 16-4) have finished second, tied for first, first and tied for first in the league standings.
“He’s the center point of all that — literally and figuratively, he’s the center of it,” Nagy said. “I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to have coached him. He’s been a great teammate and a joy for me to coach for sure.
“He’s carried a lot of weight, a lot of pressure. I’m thankful this year we’ve had other guys stepping up, and he doesn’t have to feel as much pressure. There’s other guys we can throw it in to, and he can do some other things he does well. It’s been a good year for him in that respect.”
Joining Love on the first team were Wright State’s Tanner Holden, Cleveland State’s Torrey Patton (a Trotwood-Madison grad), Oakland’s Jalen Moore and Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis.
The Raiders’ Grant Basile was a second-team pick, along with Green Bay’s Amari Davis, a former Trotwood star.
Cleveland State’s Dennis Gates, who led his team to a surprising first-place tie with the Raiders, was named coach of the year. He shared the award last season with Nagy, who also won it in 2019 and ’18.
Holden, a 6-5 sophomore, is second on the team in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (7.2). Basile, a 6-9 sophomore, leads the league in blocks with 36 and is third on the Raiders in scoring (13.9) and fourth in rebounding (6.6).
Basile, a Pewaukee, Wis., native, has averaged 15.7 points and 6.7 rebounds while starting the last 13 games, helping the team to an 11-2 record.
Love and sophomore guard Tim Finke earned spots on the five-player all-defensive team.
“In the middle of the season, Tanner and Grant were really rolling,” Nagy said. “I think they’ve tailed off a little at the end. But people have more film on them.
“We’ve been really good offensively all year. When you look at Loudon, Grant and Tanner and the percentages they’re shooting — like, Tanner has really increased his free throw percentage, and he shoots a lot of them.”
Basile leads the league in field-goal shooting at 61.8%, while Love is third at a career-high 56.1 and Holden is fifth at 52.3.
Holden also is seventh in free-throw shooting at 78.7%. The Wheelersburg, Ohio, product didn’t look like a candidate to end up in the top 10 after hitting 60.9% as a freshman.
“Mostly, those two guys have helped take the pressure off Loudon, and I know he appreciates it,” Nagy said.
Katrina Merriweather was named the women’s Horizon League coach of the year for the third time in her five years at Wright State, having also won it in 2017 and ’19.
Despite having virtually the entire preseason wiped out by COVID-19 issues, she led the Raiders to a share of the league crown and the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney. They were 15-7 overall and tied with Milwaukee at 15-5 in the league.
The Raiders’ Angel Baker was named first team all-league for the second year in a row. She’s fifth in the conference in scoring with a 17.1 average and seventh in assists at 2.9 per game.
IUPUI’s Macee Williams became the first three-time player of the year in league history. The senior center averaged 17.9 points, second in the conference, and a league-high 9.3 rebounds.
Other first-team picks include Oakland’s Kahlaijah Dean, Milwaukee’s Megan Walstad and Cleveland State’s Mariah White, who was named defensive player of the year.
Merriweather said she thought Baker deserved to get player-of-the-year consideration.
In her last eight games, the junior guard from Indianapolis averaged 23 points, going 71 of 147 from the field (48%) and 22 of 59 on 3′s (37.3%).
“She draws the attention of everyone’s defensive scheme. She makes tough shots. They crowd her every time she touches the ball, so it’s very difficult for her to create,” Merriweather said.
“Teams are literally guarding her with three and four people every time she puts the ball on the floor. Yet, she still manages to shoot a fairly good percentage and score and show up for us regardless of what the other team’s game plan is.”
Senior center Tyler Frierson earned third-team honors and also made the league’s all-defensive team.
She was fourth in the league in rebounding with an 8.4 average and fourth in blocks with 25. The Californian also was second on the team in scoring at 8.2 per game. “Tyler is such a great presence for us defensively. What she does offensively is a little bit of a bonus,” Merriweather said.
“What she does for us is the reason we’re in the position we’re in and able to talk about a conference championship.
Emani Jefferson, the team’s third-leading scorer at 8.0 per game, was named to the league’s all-freshman team. The North Port, Fla., product is tied for first on the team in steals with 28.