- Doug Harris Contributing Writer
Wright State found itself in an unexpected tussle with Division III Tiffin, and coach Scott Nagy had to burn a timeout when an 18-point halftime lead was swiftly whittled to eight.
But if the players were bracing for a stern lecture on the sidelines, they were in for a surprise.
“I didn’t call it to say anything. I called it so they could sit down and talk to each other,” Nagy said. “I don’t think I said hardly anything in that huddle. Sometimes, they just need to talk to each other and get some things straightened out.”
The Dragons cut the margin to seven, but senior wing Grant Benzinger hit a 3-pointer — putting him at 1,000 points for his career — and the Raiders led by double digits the rest of the way for a 73-49 victory Monday.
But it was far from the feel-good win they were seeking after beginning the season 0-3.
“The start of the second half, we came out flat,” Benzinger said. “They kicked our butt. They were more aggressive, more physical, and we weren’t.”
The Raiders shot 35.5 percent in the second half and 40.6 for the game, and they’ve hit only 11 of 49 three-pointers (22.5 percent) the last three games.
“It’s really hard when you’re not shooting the ball well to get in any kind of flow. … And you can see what it does to the energy of the team,” Nagy said. “I feel like that’s a problem for us right now. We just have a lot of guys with bad body language. Honestly, our team’s just not in a very good spot right now.
“There are some things that have been characteristic of our team that really need to change for us — like loose balls and hustle plays that we’re not consistently making. If it doesn’t change, it’s going to be a long year.”
Five things we learned:
Exclusive club: Benzinger reached 1,000 career points in his 101st game. The senior wing needed nine for the milestone and finished with 11. He’s the 32nd player at the school to reach quadruple digits.
“I’ve got some family members who that’s pretty important to. For me, it’s just kind of like a dessert to the win,” he said. “When I came as a freshman, it wasn’t the goal. I’ve just got some guys who give me the ball when I’m open.”
Welcome back: Senior point guard Justin Mitchell returned after a one-game suspension and had 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and three turnovers in 30 minutes.
“I thought he was just OK,” Nagy said. “He’s got to take better care of the basketball.”
Feisty freshmen: Everett Winchester led the Raiders with a career-best 18 points and seven rebounds. The 6-6 forward also had a crowd-pleasing, rim-rattling dunk with about four minutes left.
Playing his second career game, Jaylon Hall, a 6-5 guard, tallied 12 points.
Local flavor: The game was an exhibition for the Dragons, and they treated it that way. A whopping 13 players saw action in the first half, including Jarrell Taylor, a 6-6 sophomore from Northmont.
He had played three minutes previously in his career but had a 19-minute stint against the Raiders. He didn’t score but tied for the team lead with four rebounds.
Coming up: The Raiders host the second-annual Wright State Tournament this weekend. They play Gardner-Webb (1-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, Jacksonville (1-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday and Fairfield (2-1) at 3:30 Sunday.