DAYTON – The Wright State men’s basketball team used a big second half surge to win its Horizon League home opener on Thursday night, tallying an 80-75 victory over Milwaukee.
Wright State (5-7, 2-1 HL), playing without head coach Scott Nagy and four other individuals within the program’s tier one personnel due to COVID-19 protocols, trailed by 11 with just over 16 minutes to play before turning in a 20-4 run over the next seven and a half minutes to regain control and hold off Milwaukee (3-9, 1-2 HL) down the stretch.
A CJ Wilbourn steal at midcourt and layup on the other end kick started the run, which also included a three-point play from Andrew Welage and six points during the stretch from Grant Basile as the Raiders shot 50 percent as a team during the seven-plus minutes while holding Milwaukee to just a 2-of-13 mark during the same timeframe.
The Raiders saw scoring contributions from all eight players who saw action, including double-digit scoring nights from four players led by Tanner Holden. Holden notched 22 points, 13 of which came in the second half, while shooting 7-of-18 from the floor and connecting on eight of his 12 free throw attempts.
Trey Calvin added 14 points, while Basile turned in 12 points and seven rebounds, along with three blocks. Tim Finke was the final Raider in double-digits as he finished with 11 points and a team-leading nine rebounds. Keaton Norris added eight first half points off a pair of first half three-pointers, while he also took a charge as part of that momentum-swinging run. Wilbourn, playing against his former team, chipped in six points and pulled down five rebounds, while Welage tallied five points and James Manns had a bucket as well.
Wright State finished the night shooting 46 percent (30-of-65) from the floor overall with five three-pointers, while the Raiders were 15-of-22 (68%) at the free throw stripe – 10 of which came in the second half. Milwaukee connected at a 44 percent (28-of-64) clip from the floor, but just 39 percent in the second half, while the visitors hit seven of their 19 three-point attempts and were 12-of-16 from the free throw stripe.
The Raiders pulled down 35 rebounds, including 24 on the defensive glass, while doing over half their scoring damage inside by way of 44 paint points. Wright State has six steals and forced 12 Milwaukee turnovers that lead to 20 points off those takeaways and the Raiders also got out in transition to the tune of 10 fast break points.
Wright State rides its three-game winning streak into the new year, as the Raiders begin 2022 on Saturday afternoon with a 2 p.m. tipoff against Green Bay inside the Nutter Center.