Dayton Daily News

Wright State’s defense steps up against Oakland

- By Doug Harris Contributi­ng Writer Who:

Wright State FAIRBORN — coach Scott Nagy tries hard not to rip into his players, believing it’s usually counterpro­ductive. But he certainly felt like going berserk when a listless defensive effort allowed Oakland to take a 41-35 halftime lead Thursday.

The Grizzlies shot nearly 55 percent from the field and were getting practicall­y anything they wanted inside.

“I had to make a conscious effort not to go in and raise my voice,” Nagy said. “They can see I was bothered, but they were bothered, too. We’ve got good kids who want to win, and they were just as bothered by it.

“The main thing was, don’t blow up. Let’s start talking about X’s and O’s and things we can do. Our kids already


Detroit Mercy (9-15, 6-6) at Wright State (14-11, 8-4)

7 p.m. Saturday TV: ESPN+ 106.5-FM Series: Wright State leads 31-27

Scott Nagy is 59-33 in his third year at Wright State and 469-273 in 24 years overall. Mike Davis is in his first year at Detroit but has coached at Indiana, UAB and Texas Southern with a 361-256 record. know they didn’t play as hard as they should have.”

Those halftime adjustment­s — and ramping up the intensity Mark Hughes, 6-4, Sr., G, 9.8

Cole Gentry, 5-10, Jr., G, 13.0

Alan Vest, 6-3, Sr., G, 4.9 Loudon Love, 6-9, So., F, 14.9

Parker Ernsthause­n, 6-11, Sr., C, 4.4 Antoine Davis, 6-1, Fr., G, 27.1

Josh McFolley, 6-1, Sr., G, 12.1

Jacob Holland, 6-4, Sr., G, 2.4

Derrien King, 6-7, Sr., F, 8.3 Gerald Blackshear, 6-9, Sr., F, 4.6 — were just what the Raiders needed. They scored the first 18 points of the second half to build a 12-point lead and storm to a 76-62 win before 3,498 fans in a battle for second place in the Horizon League.

Loudon Love had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Bill Wampler tallied 16 points and six boards as Wright State improved to 14-11 overall and 8-4 in the conference, one game behind Northern Kentucky.

The Grizzlies (11-14, 7-5) went 0-for-7 from the field with four turnovers during the Raiders’ scoring spree.

“He said he was trying not to yell,” Wampler said of Nagy’s halftime address. “He delivered the same message he did before the game. We had to come out playing harder, and we did.”

Here are some takeaways from the game:

New style: The Raiders have been playing at a slower tempo most of the season to accommodat­e the 6-foot-9, 280-pound Love, but Nagy wants them to become more of a transition team to cater to point guard Cole Gentry and other perimeter players.

“We’ve had guys who just haven’t played as well offensivel­y as we hoped to this point. We haven’t been good in the halfcourt,” Nagy said. “We’ve been trying to play with a quicker pace, and that’s where Cole excels — in the open court.

“We held him back for so long trying to play Loudon more minutes. We decided after misses and turnovers, we need to run and try to get some easy shots. If Loudon plays less minutes, he plays less minutes.”

Mark Hughes (11 points), Malachi Smith (11) and Gentry (10) all seem better suited to play that way. And Love looks as if he can handle it since he had his ninth double-double this season while playing 32 minutes.

Defensive switch: Oakland’s twin towers of Brad Brechting and Xavier HillMaas combined for 19 points in the first half, but they had just seven after halftime.

“We made a simple adjustment. We started playing more behind them instead of fronting. If they were going to score, they had to score through us. We made it much more difficult for them to score at the basket,” Nagy said.

Taking charge: Oakland controlled the first half, but Hughes made a 3-pointer just eight seconds into the second half, igniting a surge.

Gentry, Wampler and Smith all scored twice at the rim, and Alan Vest added a 3-pointer to give the Raiders a 53-41 edge with 14:08 to go.

“It really helped that Mark hit that 3 right away,” Nagy said. “It flipped a switch for us.”

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