Men’s Basketball 2023 | Photo by Arden Reimer | The Wright State Guardian
Following a resilient 15-point comeback Friday evening, the Wright State University men’s basketball team returned home Sunday afternoon to host the Oakland Grizzlies. WSU ultimately fell short, losing 75-73.
Entering the game
Coming into Sunday’s Horizon League matchup, WSU held a 9-7 overall record and a 2-3 conference record; on the other side, the Grizzlies entered the match with a 6-10 overall record and a 3-2 conference record.
The Grizzlies also carried a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s showdown; WSU entered Sunday riding two consecutive wins against IUPUI and Detroit Mercy.
The contest started fast for Wright State. The Raiders jumped out to an early 19-9 lead in the first half. After going up 10 points, WSU struggled to keep the momentum throughout the game. WSU gave up 13 points off turnovers in the first half, allowing the Grizzlies to rally back before taking a four-point lead into halftime.
In the second half, WSU managed to hang in the game despite having a total of 13 turnovers in the game. Redshirt freshman Brandon Noel led the team, finishing with a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The second half featured both teams going back and forth, resulting in 14 different ties and six different lead changes.
Aside from Noel’s double-double, WSU also saw sophomore AJ Braun score 15 points and senior Amari Davis score 14 points.
The Grizzlies were too much to handle for WSU. Oakland shot 50% from the field and had five players finish in double-digit scoring.
“If we are gonna make that step, our defense has to get better,” Wright State University men’s head basketball coach Scott Nagy said. “We cannot afford to continue to give up 50% shooting.”
Oakland did an exceptional job at keeping senior Trey Calvin contained. Calvin finished Sunday with eight points on 30% shooting.
“[Calvin] almost saw two bodies all night,” Nagy noted. “He has to move past that and get past the frustration. If he is going to draw two bodies, he needs to find people and get them open.”
Despite some setbacks, Noel mentioned a positive take away from the Sunday game.
“I know our defensive rating in the league is not very good, but I think we made some improvements today,” Noel mentioned. “I think that we have something to look forward to going into next week’s road trip.”
With 12.6 seconds left to play and down one point, Oakland nailed a three-point shot that would ultimately serve as the dagger of the game. WSU had an opportunity to tie or win the game in the final seconds; Davis took a mid-range shot that bounced off the rim and missed.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t make that shot, but the goal was to get to the rim and make a play,” Davis commented. “When it came off my hand, it felt good.”
The road ahead
Sunday’s loss was a tough one for the Raiders. After starting 1-3 in conference play, Friday night’s win felt like a momentum switch the team needed. Losing the game Sunday was a reality check and shows that the team still has plenty of room for improvement.
WSU now sits at 9-8 overall and 2-4 in Horizon League play, which has the team sitting in eighth place in the HL standings.
“After losing three games at home, we are going to have to be really special on the road from here on out,” Nagy added. “We are going to have to be a highly desperate team, and hopefully we see that.”
The Raiders will hit the road this week for two more conference games. The first will come this Thursday evening at Green Bay and Saturday against Milwaukee.
Despite losing Sunday afternoon, Noel was Horizon League freshman of the week, finishing with three double-double performances in the week.
“He is starting to be more confident and believe in himself,” Nagy noted. “The light is starting to turn on for him, and he is starting to see how big of a factor he can be for us.”
The next Raider game will be on Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN+.