If he played in the Horizon League, North Carolina A&T’s dominant scorer would enjoy success, Wright State coach Billy Donlon figures.
Not if Friday night was any indication.
Wright State sophomore Kendall Griffin’s lock-down defense on Lamont Middleton and the inspired shooting of freshman J.T. Yoho helped lift the Raiders to a 56-44 win over the Aggies in WSU’s home opener. The Raiders improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season in front of 3,726 at the Nutter Center.
Griffin limited a frustrated Middleton to six points, 12 below his average. He got off three shots in the first half.
“Unbelievable,” Donlon said. “He’s guarding a high-level player. The key is Middleton took five shots. He normally takes 12-14. That’s smothering defense.”
Yoho led the Raiders with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and added five rebounds. Yoho and junior Miles Dixon combined for 10 of WSU’s next 12 points after A&T pulled to 31-26 with 15:37 left in the second half. That restored WSU’s lead and the Aggies (1-2) never got within eight again. Dixon added 14 points overall.
Wright State shot 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from 3-point range and made 9-of-20 (45 percent) free throws. The Raiders were also outrebounded 35-28 and had five offensive boards.
“These kinds of nights … you win because of your guts,” Donlon said. “The only way we’re going to win is if we continue to defend. I’m proud of our kids because we gutted out a win.”
Austin Witter led A&T with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Adrian Powell added 10. The Aggies shot 15-of-45 (33 percent) and 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) from 3-point range. Middleton was 2-of-5 and had three turnovers.
“We talked about how it wasn’t just one guy guarding him, it was team defense,” Griffin said. “My job was to frustrate him off the ball, then once he caught it I was on him. What you guys don’t really see is the intricacies of the game. There were two or three guys behind me helping stop him. It looks like I did all the work, but really I didn’t.”