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Raiders Drop First Two of Four-Game Home Stand

Men’s Basketball vs Cleveland State | Photo by Monica Brutto | The Wright State Guardian

The Wright State University men’s basketball team returned home this week to begin a four-game home stand, starting with Fort Wayne on Thursday and Cleveland State on Saturday. 

Thursday home game

Entering Thursday, WSU had won four of its last five games. Senior Trey Calvin helped WSU rally in overtime last time out, scoring eight of the team’s nine points against Milwaukee. On Thursday, WSU hosted the Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne. The Horizon League preseason poll projects PFW in first place. 

WSU started the game slow, struggling on the defensive end of the floor. The Mastodons scored 19 points from turnovers in the first half. 

After going on a 14-point run in the first half and converting seven three-pointers, the Mastodons went into halftime leading by 16 points and shooting over 50% from the field. 

“In the first half, we really struggled defensively,” Andrew Welage, a junior guard for WSU, mentioned. “They kind of just got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.”

Following the rough first half, WSU kept fighting and managed to bring the score back within four points late in the game. Calvin led all scorers with 26 points with three other Raiders in double digits. 

The Raiders’ late second half run was not enough to bring home a win, as the team fell 88-80.

Although the Raiders lost, the team showed a lot of fight and never threw in the towel. 

“We kept fighting back, but ultimately, we dug ourselves into too big of a hole,” Brandon Noel added. 

The Raiders move forward looking for answers on the defensive end, as the team has struggled to make crucial stops in big games throughout the season. 

“Our entire team needs to be better defensively, ” head coach Scott Nagy stated. “They made threes, and they made layups. It is one or the other, but it cannot be both; we’re not even close enough defensively to make a run at this, and that is what needs to change.” 

Saturday against Cleveland State

Following the demoralizing loss on Thursday, WSU returned to host Cleveland State on Saturday evening. The Vikings were coming off a heartbreaking loss to Northern Kentucky on Thursday and appeared very hungry as the game began. 

The Vikings started fast, going on a 13-2 run as the game began. 

WSU ran into familiar issues as the team struggled to contain CSU. The Raiders committed 12 first-half turnovers, contributing to a 16-point Vikings lead at halftime. 

Aside from the Raider turnovers, CSU could not be stopped on the offensive side, as the Vikings shot just over 70% in the first half. 

“I think when they make that first punch, we need to be able to respond,” WSU senior Tim Finke added.  

Per usual, the Raiders still made things interesting. After trailing by as many as 22 points in the second half, WSU managed to get back within four points on four separate occasions. With under 13 minutes remaining in play, the Raiders managed to go on a 16-0 scoring run to resurface in the game. 

A major success for WSU in Saturday’s match was free throw shooting. The Raiders went 21-23 from the charity stripe, which kept the team alive down the stretch. 

Despite clawing its way back, the WSU team fell short, losing 85-77. Calvin had another good night in terms of scoring; the senior guard posted a game-high 24 points, shooting 7-17 from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line. 

Brandon Noel and Tim Finke also reached double digits with Noel posting 16 points and Finke with 11. 

With the loss Saturday, WSU now sits at 11-10 overall and 4-6 in Horizon Legue play. The Raiders currently sit in seventh place with many conference games yet to be played. 

“There is still a long way to go; we’re not panicked,” Nagy added. “I think their heads are right, but there are obviously some things we need to fix.”

Issues at home 

The Raiders have had tremendous struggles at the Nutter Center this season. The team has produced a 4-6 record at home this season while going 5-3 on the road. 

This comes as a surprise to many, since the Raiders had only lost nine home games in the three previous seasons combined. 

“We’ve obviously done well here since I’ve been here, but this year has been a mess,” Nagy mentioned. “We have some guys that play a little nervous. We need to lose that fear.”

Moving forward

WSU will stay at home for two more HL showdowns this week. The Raiders will host Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. The fourth and final game of the WSU home stand is on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against Green Bay for the homecoming game. 

Adam Campbell

Contributing Sports Writer