Men’s Basketball vs NKU | Photo by Monica Brutto | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State men’s basketball had a senior night to remember on Friday, as the Raiders dominated its rival Northern Kentucky University on both offense and defense to win 83-65.
Reflections from coach Nagy
Head coach Scott Nagy was happy with the WSU defense for the first time this season, as the Raiders have been working hard to improve on the defensive end all season.
“But, man, I thought defensively we were good. We were sharp, and we executed a good game plan,” Nagy said. “That’s where we’ve made the biggest jump, and that’s why we’re playing so much better.”
With a big rivalry game at home, a national broadcast, senior night and Raider Roundup before the game, Friday night’s action drew the biggest live crowd of the season for the two rivals to battle.
All the pressure and meaning behind the game created an exciting atmosphere of a punch-for-punch game, as each team would go on runs back and forth. WSU would start the game up 13-2, but NKU would punch back to take the lead 25-23.
“The start of the game was obviously highly emotional,” Nagy said. “It’s a good rivalry in a big game. A lot of times you have those and you get that quick start, and then you just completely are zapped, and that’s what happened.”
With WSU crowd support, the team pushed the biggest run of the night after halftime. In the second half, WSU shot an incredible 71% from the field, whereas the Norse could only get 34% to fall against the Raider defense.
“It’s a great feeling,” Brandon Noel, a redshirt freshman for WSU, said. “You kick out and those guys are hitting those threes … We had Trey [Calvin], Alex [Huibregtse], Andrew [Welage] and Tim [Finke] all hit some threes tonight, and that’s big for them and big for us.”
With the crowd supporting the team and roaring after every basket near the end of the game, the Raiders would go on a 16-1 run against the Norse to take a commanding lead and bleed out the clock to win by 18 points.
Climbing the table
The win over NKU on Friday gives the Raiders its fifth win in the last six games, with its only loss being in triple-overtime. WSU sat 4-6 before this stint of play but is now 9-7 and challenging for the top spots of the Horizon League table.
The recent explosive play from the Raiders is attributed to improvements in defense, as WSU has made it much harder for its opponents to get easy shots, and holding the ball, as the team has limited turnovers.
In a game about big runs like Friday’s matchup, getting defensive stops was how WSU built momentum.
“Defense. It’s always defense,” Trey Calvin, a senior for WSU, said. “We stepped it up on the defensive end. We were disruptive, getting steals, getting turnovers, and that led to easy baskets for us.”
As the Raider team closes out its season, WSU looks for a fifth-place finish or higher in the table to get a first-round bye. Currently sitting in sixth with four matches on the road left, WSU will need to make every game count.
“Just taking it one game at a time,” Calvin said. “We kind of play better on the road. It’s just about the same mindset we came in with tonight, just being aggressive and playing together.”
The next Raider matchup is at Cleveland State on Friday Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.