Wright State (8-7, 1-3) returned back home for conference play against Detroit Mercy (6-9, 2-2). The Raiders were coming off of a conference split against rival NKU and last place IUPUI, and are in desperate need of a win to right their ship in the conference standings. Detroit Mercy was coming off a similar split against the Wisconsin teams at home, where Antoine Davis shined with scoring in the thirties. However, the Titans were without Gerald Liddell, a key contributor to the squad’s cohesion, especially in rebounding.
The Raiders began the match with some very unimpressive shooting, allowing Detroit to take a 14-8 lead in four minutes, with Jayden Stone scoring 10 of those 14. Despite having the forwards on the floor, Detroit owned the floor underneath and racked up 7 offensive rebounds early, keeping the danger in the Raiders zone. Then Nagy brought in the guards: Andrew Welage, Alex Huibregtse, Keaton Norris, and Trey Calvin all joined the floor alongside Noel to challenge Detroit to a boat race.
“[Detroit] was bringing in their smaller guards, so we played small a lot more often,” Nagy remarked. “It allows us to play Noel at the 5, and I think that makes us faster.”
Immediately the guards impressed. With one blemish of a turnover, the Raiders scored on 7 of 8 possessions and brought themselves within one of the Titans, led by Huibregtse and Calvin having a ball running essentially the seven second offense. Now a game again, the Titans and Raiders wrestled back and forth for the lead until the final four minutes, where Wright State went stone cold after the timeout and allowed the Titans to take a 48-40 lead.
Davis, the league’s all-time leading scorer, was fairly muted until he found some fire late in the first half, scoring 13 points. Noel, who was on his guard, said in the post game interview that he was “trying to use his length to his advantage” to keep Davis in check. In addition, Jayden Stone of UDM impressed in the first half, scoring 14 with 10 of those points scored in the first four minutes. For the Raiders, Amari Davis earned 12 points with hard shots inside to pace the Raiders, with Huibregtse’s 8 point right behind.
To start the 2nd half, the Raiders and Titans went cold for about 3 minutes before the Titans absolutely went off, laying in 9 unanswered and taking a 57-42 lead with 15 minutes left. The Raiders would be down double digits up until the eight minute mark, where Calvin and Noel went back and forth to chip away the deficit with a 19-4 run, along with some help from the Detroit Mercy bench on a technical foul. With 3:46 left, Finke and Antoine Davis traded threes to knot up the score 78-78. As Detroit Mercy used the final few minutes to try to drain threes with almost no success, except for Davis, Wright State chipped away and took a two possession lead with under a minute remaining, and sealed the deal 90-85 to mark their second conference win and first of the season at home.
“We just can’t give in to discouragement, it’s very easy to get discouraged,” Nagy remarked in the post-game interview. He would go on to talk about how he felt that Calvin was allowing himself to get discouraged and that he really locked back into the game in the second half.
After logging only 6 points in the first half, Calvin really came to life in the second and scored 21 more to tie Davis at 27 points total. Noel logged 18 points and a whopping 17 rebounds on his way to his fourth double double of the season. Noel would remark while chuckling after being asked which was harder to achieve that the 17 rebounds he fought for.
“I changed up to start going after rebounds after the half,” Noel replied, mentioning that he wasn’t finding success scoring in the first. His 17 rebounds is a career high so far.
Wright State continues its homestead against Oakland on Sunday, January 8th at 1:00 pm. Oakland (5-11, 3-2) is coming from NKU on a last minute win as well, both teams entering the weekend trying to rectify their early conference struggles. A win by the Raiders would put them back into .500 in conference play.