Wright State falls to fourth after consecutive losses

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Photo courtesy of Wright State Athletics

The Raiders took a trip up north to Wisconsin to take on Green Bay and Milwaukee in their home turf, a trip that is always fraught with disaster for any team. They started against Green Bay on Wednesday evening, a squad that has been struggling but has a bunch of promising youth at the helm since Donovan Ivory decided to move on from the program.

Raiders started the game with their foot on the pedal, putting up eight unanswered points until Green Bay squeaked in a layup before the under 16 mark. Calvin then picked up two fouls trying to keep Kamari McGee away from the basket, and his absence following that allowed McGee to grind the lead away to 18-16. After another brief escape by the Raiders from some excellent defense, the Phoenix once again kept the Raiders in sight by capitalizing on bad Raider turnovers and ended the half 38-34.

Green Bay would then get no closer in the match. After going into the first media timeout only down 5, the Raiders went on a 21-5 run over eight minutes, putting Green Bay’s offense in a vice grip as Basile and Holden blasted their way through to the rim. Wright State finished the game 79-62, with the dynamic duo of Basile and Holden putting up 40 of the squads points and Basile joining Holden in the 1000 point club.

The Raiders then travelled to Milwaukee, who scored next to no points in both halves against travel partner NKU, losing 75-39. After allowing Milwaukee to score the first six points, Wright State fought back the deficit through the next eight minutes, before taking a commanding 8 point lead at the half, 31-23.

Then Wright State went dead silent, scoring 12 points over the course of 14 minutes and allowing Milwaukee’s similarly struggling offense to take the lead. The Raiders then weren’t able to win the grind and lost the game 60-57.

Before we delve into the stats on this game, we need to move on to the NKU game since a similar curse befell the Raiders against their cross town rival. The Raiders started the game abysmally bad at getting the ball into the bucket, scoring a whopping 7 points over 12 minutes against the Norse in their own home stadium. Despite the start, the Norse didn’t want to run away with the game either, only managing to separate themselves by a 16 point margin at their high point of the night. Going into the half, Grant Basile hit a desperation three to cut the deficit, ending the half 34-22 and with 19% shooting.

The Norse kept the distance in the double digit range for the majority of the second half, but then the Raiders went into hero mode and tried to rescue this game from the jaws of defeat. With 1:38 left on the clock, the Raiders scored 16 points off of quick shots from the three point line to bring themselves within two of the Norse, laying on the garbage time points in an incredible display that electrified the stadium. Despite the heroism however, the Raiders ran out of time and out of luck on the final shot and ended the game 75-71.

The Raider starters all suffered in some capacity throughout the week. Grant Basile shot 25% (4-17) in Milwaukee before rescuing the squad with his 25 points against NKU. Trey Calvin was the only Raider to nearly scratch 50% shooting in Milwaukee and was the leader of their offense there, but could not find his rhythm until the end of the match with NKU. Holden, while still amazing, was contained in both games and would’ve had a double double in Milwaukee had he made just one more shot fall. Finke also couldn’t find a position to shoot from against NKU and only had one three pointer fall.

As a squad, the Raiders went 32% over those two games, a far cry from what Raider fans are used to seeing from one of the league’s best offenses.

Wright State now sits in fourth in the standings, sharing space with NKU who has tie-breaker over the squad as they have squashed them in both meetings. Directly behind them and eyeing the first round bye is Purdue Fort Wayne, which Wright State holds tie-breaker over for their head to head record. Recently the 1st place race has become neck and neck, with Cleveland still holding serve after a 3OT loss to PFW and Oakland exactly one game back. If the Raiders want to have a shot at the one seed, they’ll need to be flawless for their last four games.

Wright State visits Oakland on Friday, February 18th for a nationally televised contest between titans. Wright State currently holds advantage in that series 1-0, and a win would be key in cementing a top four seed in the tournament. Following that, Wright State visits Detroit Mercy on Sunday, who they absolutely flattened in their encounter at the Nutter Center. Then the Raiders return home for rematches against Youngstown, who defeated a COVID-ridden Raiders squad with a last second three, and Robert Morris on Thursday and Saturday. The Raiders control their destiny in the tournament, and could look to still clinch the Horizon title if the cards fall their way.

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