Basketball season is great. November begins the journey for 362 collegiate teams, all of whom will be jostling for the coveted 68 spots in March Madness. The early action gives a snapshot of what fans can expect in the future, and the opponents are often exciting and new. Nothing beats that first home game of the season.
Well, except for if that day is a double header featuring both the men’s and women’s squads.
Wright State got to have this rare treat for its fans on Tuesday, starting with the women’s basketball team. For the afternoon matchup, the Raiders (0-2) welcomed in NAIA Mount Vernon Nazarene, currently in the middle of a five game winning streak to start the season. They’ve been led through this hot start by Peyton Stone and Angela Roshak, a guard-center duo averaging 13 PPG between them. The Raiders enter their first match at home winless after losing a close back and forth with Southern Indiana and a blowout by Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State.
The Raiders didn’t start on the foot they needed to, missing seven of their first three pointers before Kacee Baumhower broke the streak in the second quarter. Up until that shot, the Cougars of MVNU were leading the Raiders and keeping them just out of reach. Baumhower’s shot cascaded into a 16 point run that saw the Raiders take a double digit lead for good. At halftime, the ladies were up 40-31 on the Cougars, buoyed by a 10-13 FGs and all four attempts from the arc connecting during the second quarter.
The Cougars and Raiders seesawed for points after that, each time answering in kind to a score and keeping the lead firmly in the teens. Wright State started to waltz away with the victory in the fourth quarter, where Lauren Scott flourished and scored 8 points to finish out the contest. Wright State secured the first win of the season 88-64, with Baumhower (19), Scott (17), and Hutchison (16) leading the Raiders in an even scoring effort all around. The Raiders once again reached double digit three pointers in the outing, shooting 10-22 and above 50% FG% overall for the second time this season.
“I think today showed growth,” Kacee Baumhower commented after the game. “Usually, the last couple of games we had a three or four minute stretch where the game just blew open… So today, we didn’t let that little stretch happen.”
Following the women’s game, the men’s team (0-1) took the floor against Toledo (2-0). Toledo had cleanly come out of matches with wins against competition that Wright State will face later on the floor this year, fellow Horizon member – Detroit Mercy + first round opponent in the Gulf Coast Showcase – Louisiana. Wright State is coming home after a disappointing showing against Colorado State, where the Raiders fell apart defensively in the second half in route to a near 30 point loss, and is looking to grab its first win as well.
In the opening few minutes, the Raiders took a 7 point lead off of Toledo miscues on defense to go up 14-7, the largest lead that Wright State would have in the night. From then on, immediately following a Tanner Holden technical foul, Toledo and Wright State wrestled with each other for the lead. Each point was answered in turn and no one ever took more than a two possession lead for the remainder of the game. Wright State had visibly made strides to correct the defense and rebounding efforts, but were having trouble keeping up with the Rockets offense nonetheless. Toledo could not find an answer for AJ Braun, who had 12 points at the half on 6-7 shooting.
By halftime, the score was 41-40 in favor of the Rockets. While the Raiders were shooting 62%, they also turned the ball over ten times in the first half, allowing Toledo to capitalize with 17 points on turnovers. Going into the second half, the Raider defense continued to clamp down with some major efforts by Brandon Noel. Wright State and Toledo continued to jockey for position, trying to separate from each other the whole way through.
With the game going down to the wire and with the Raiders only down by one, Toledo’s Dante Maddox Jr threw up a three that sank below the net and bounced harmlessly off the field, 9 seconds to go. The Raiders inbounded it to Calvin who took the ball up the court. The situation mirrored the contest against Louisville last year, where Calvin made a last second jumper in double coverage to clinch the game. With nearly three men on top of him, Calvin attempted the same heroic feat, but the ball was undershot and bounced off the rim to end the game as a Raider loss, 78-77.
“Almost every look for Trey [Calvin] is a good look,” Nagy chuckled about the final play. “I would’ve liked to see him try to get to the hole and maybe draw a foul but it’s hard to get those in that situation.”
Trey Calvin was the key to the offense for the game, shooting for 22 points at an even 50%. Brandon Noel saw all 40 minutes on the court and had 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the effort. For Toledo, Maddox Jr cashed in 20 points in 28 minutes to lead the Rockets in the win.
Both teams take off for other courts for their next matchups. Wright State men’s basketball will take a short rest before traveling to Bloomington to face Big Ten’s Indiana on Thursday at 7 pm. Indiana (2-0) has had their fans shaking nervously due to close wins against Army and Florida Gulf Coast, two mid majors. Wright State women’s basketball will get a little more time to retool before traveling to Terre Haute to face MVC’s Indiana State. Opponent of the RaiderGang in the NCAA Baseball Tournament last year, Indiana State (1-2) took a narrow victory against Northern Kentucky before losing two straight to Missouri and Division II Illinois-Springfield.