One word has described Raider Nation for the last couple of hours, and that is “pain”. We were riding high through the first 34 minutes. Hell, I even moved the game over to my laptop to put Detroit Mercy and Northern Kentucky on the TV. I thought it was over; we had a 99.9% chance to win via ESPN. How quickly did I forget that this month can be both beautiful and a bitch at the same time.
It started out beautifully. The Raiders went on a 7-0 run answering the opening points from Milwaukee. At the next stoppage, they would stretch that out to double digits at 23-12. Wright State continued to grow it, leading by as much as 21. They would be up 44-26 at the break.
WSU was shooting a stellar 56% at the break in comparison to the Panthers’ 32%. They were out-rebounding Milwaukee 22-11. Grant Basile and Loudon Love each had 15 points. They were sitting pretty.
Basile would reel in his second double-double of the season at the 12:40 mark. They would head into the under-twelve of the second half with a 58-45 lead. That would ultimately stretch out to 69-45, and a 24-point lead as the Raiders were still shooting over 50% after the second half under-eight media timeout. Little did anyone know that that would be the last high point of the Raiders’ season.
At the 6:15 mark, Milwaukee would go to the line. That was soon followed by Raider turnovers, fouls, and to be honest, I cannot tell you. I lost track as I saw that lead slowly and sadly diminish. Still, I thought it was over.
DeAndre Gholston would then hit a three with .7 remaining, capping a 36-12 Panther run, and tying up the game. I sat in my apartment in disbelief, waiting any minute for someone to walk through the door confused why I have four basketball games on and have a blanket draped over my head in disbelief.
The Raiders would stretch their lead out to four in the extra frame, but as we saw throughout the league on Tuesday, that was not enough. DeAndre Gholston would hit two free throws at the 38 second mark, and that was all she wrote. Tanner Holden turned the ball over, Gholston made two more free throws, and the season was over. The best frontcourt I’ve ever seen in mid-major basketball going down like that. More than likely Love’s last game in a Raider jersey. More than likely my last game regularly covering the team. A 24-point lead with 6:15 remaining diminish.
“You gotta give them some credit for not quitting,” said Scott Nagy postgame, “You know it’s obviously, probably for our players one of, if not the most disappointing loss they’ve ever had. As I would say the same for me too.”
Basile would finish his sophomore season with his second double-double of the season at 35 points and 14 rebounds. Tanner Holden followed with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Love seemed to finish out his Raider career with 14 points and 6 rebounds…unless he decides to use that extra year of eligibility next season.
That concludes the 54th season of Raider basketball. It was fun.