First Four: Wright State downs Bryant for first NCAA Tournament win

Wright State’s Tanner Holden tries to work inside against Bryant Wednesday, March 16, 2022 during the First Four tournament at UD Arena.

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Wright State’s Tanner Holden tries to work inside against Bryant Wednesday, March 16, 2022 during the First Four tournament at UD Arena.

Wright State is moving on in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

The Raiders downed fellow 16 seed Bryant 93-82 on Wednesday night at UD Arena to advance to the round of 64. They had lost their previous three NCAA Tournament games, all in the round of 64.

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Wright State led by two at the half, pushed the advantage to eight on Trey Calvin’s floater with 16:27 left, and it was never closer than five the rest of the way.

Calvin had a steal and a break-away layup to give Wright State a nine-point lead at 66-57, and AJ Braun’s free throw made it a 10-point game for the first time with 12 minutes to go.

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Tanner Holden pushed it to 75-61 with a pair of free throws with 7:50 to go, and the Raiders held serve from there.

They led by as many as 16 as a partisan crowd chanted, “Let’s Go Raiders” multiple times in the second half.

Holden scored 37 points to lead all scorers while Calvin added 21 and Grant Basile tallied 14.

Peter Kiss, the nation’s leading scorer, scored 28 points but needed 25 shots to get there. Nothing was easy for him as the Raiders hounded him all over the court.

Wright State advances to face No. 1 seed Arizona on Friday night in San Diego.

After a slow start, Wright State surged ahead with a 12-2 run that gave the Raiders a five-point lead at 12-7.

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The Raiders led by as many as six, but Bryant came back to tie it at 22 then went ahead 29-28 on a 3-pointer by Adham Eleeda with 5:26 to go.

Tim Finke answered with a trey of his own on the next possession to ignite a 9-2 run that put Wright State ahead 38-31.

The Raiders never trailed again, though Bryant was able to cut it to two on a Kiss bank shot in the closing seconds of the first half.

That came immediately after a thunderous dunk by Holden, who led Wright State with 20 points in the first 20 minutes.

He was 6 for 9 from the floor and made all eight of his free-throw attempts in the first half.

The All-Horizon League guard ended up shooting 11 for 15 from the floor and was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe. He drew 10 fouls and had a game-high 11 rebounds.

Basile added seven in the first half while Finke and Andrew Welage added six apiece.

Kiss, who entered averaging more than 25 points per game, had 10 for Bryant despite missing seven of his 10 shots.

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