Scott Nagy | Photo by Christian Peters | The Wright State Guardian
Wright State University Men’s Basketball ended a historic season against the Arizona Wildcats in San Diego’s Viejas Arena, with an 87-70 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Raiders came back from large deficits against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies and the Northern Kentucky Norse in the Horizon League Tournament and beat the Bryant Bulldogs to make it this far.
However, four players in double-digit scoring could not pull the Raiders to a win against the #1 seeded Wildcats.
“We forced a lot of turnovers, but we just had to hope they missed more shots,” WSU’s head basketball coach Scott Nagy said. “I think the game plan was right for our guys, and obviously, we’re very proud of them.”
The height difference
Coming into the game, the biggest obstacle for the Raiders was the height of the Wildcats. Arizona has four players standing 6’10” or taller, making them the tallest college team in the nation. WSU’s tallest player is 6’9”.
“I knew it would be a challenge, obviously, coming in here,” Tim Finke, guard for WSU, said. “Having to guard their big guys, it was a mindset from the get-go trying to just be physical and get around them.”
That height difference decided the game, allowing the Wildcats to dominate in the paint and on the perimeter, with WSU shooting 24-69 overall and Arizona shooting 33-60 as a team.
The Raiders only shot about 35% from the field, as they were not used to the height Arizona brought, while the Wildcats could easily find space to shoot.
“That length, that’s something we don’t see to that extent in our league,” Finke said. “It was something that we had to kind of adjust to and figure out.”
WSU’s Grant Basile led the scoring with 21, quickly followed behind by shared scoring from the Wildcats, with 18, 17 and 16 points scored by their top three shooters.
Looking to the future
While this is the end of WSU’s season, a league tournament championship and the first-ever D1 NCAA tournament win will put this men’s basketball season in Raider history.
“This definitely is a step in the right direction,” Tanner Holden, a guard for WSU, said. “This is just the start of it.”
Coming into next year, this season is something the Raiders will hope to build on, and search for more conference championships and another chance in March Madness.
“We’re not just coming in here to have fun,” Finke said. “I think, just going forward, it’s something that we want to build on.”
Looking into the future, this experience is something that the entire Raider lineup wants a second shot at, and will train hard in the offseason for another chance next March.
“I think we’re going to do a great job in the offseason working on our weaknesses and sticking together,” Holden said. “We’re going to get back to this point and hopefully win some more games.”