Mitchell’s triple-double lifts WSU past Green Bay

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Mitchell's triple-double lifts WSU to win

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Coaches usually don’t give their players stat updates during the game, but Wright State assistant Sharif Chambliss made an exception for a special performance.

During a timeout in the closing minutes of Saturday night’s game against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Chambliss let junior guard Justin Mitchell know he was one rebound shy of a triple-double.

Mitchell hit the mark with 1:01 remaining and added another rebound a few seconds later to put the topper on an impressive 79-88 victory before 6,675 at the Nutter Center.

“I think I had a triple-double in high school, but this is my first one in college,” said Mitchell, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists to help the Raiders improve to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the Horizon League.

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Not only was it Mitchell’s first triple-double at WSU, it was only the third in the history of the program.

“For Justin to have only the third triple-double in the history of the school tells you how big that is,” Raiders coach Scott Nagy said. “That just doesn’t happen very often. This is my 22nd year coaching and it’s only the second time it’s ever happened for me.”

The only other triple-doubles in program history were turned in by Keion Brooks vs. Butler on Jan. 25, 1997 (18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) and Vernard Hollins vs. Texas-Pan American on Jan. 14, 2004 (21 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists).

Like Mitchell, Brooks and Hollins are both from Fort Wayne, Ind.

“(Hollins) is my mentor,” Mitchell said after going 5 of 5 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. “His dad and my dad were great friends. Growing up he trained me and worked me out a lot. He comes down in the summer to see practice and he’s come to a few games to watch me play. I might have to hit him up after this and let him know I got a triple-double.”

The triple-double wasn’t the only rare occurrence Saturday night as Wright State beat Green Bay (15-11, 9-5) for just the second time in nine tries since 2013.

Mark Alstork led the Raiders with 20 points, while Steven Davis added 17 and Grant Benzinger had 16 as WSU took control in the second half by shooting 60 percent to lead by as many as 14.

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"This is a big-time win for us after we went there and laid an egg at their place," Alstork said, referring to a 78-61 loss Jan. 12. "They were more physical than us throughout the whole game, but tonight we came out and we fought."

While the Raiders had a 30-29 edge in rebounds and forced Green Bay into 19 turnovers, Nagy still sounded disappointed in his defense after the Phoenix shot 53.3 percent in the first half and 50.8 percent for the game.

But they still couldn’t keep pace with the Raiders, who took more than twice as many free throws (going 22 of 29 compared to the Phoenix at 10 of 13) and knocked down 4 of 6 3-pointers in the second half.

“It’s great to win games doing that, but I would rather win games with defense than offense,” Nagy said. “I never run out of things to complain about. That’s my job. I see the things that are wrong, not the things that are right. You can count on defense. You can’t count on offense.”

Jamar Hurdle led the Phoenix with 16 points off the bench, while Turner Botz scored 13 and Warren Jones added 10 as WSU saw a 12-point lead with 3:10 remaining shrink to six in a span of 53 seconds. But Alstork stopped the surge with a driving layup, then teamed with Benzinger, Mitchell and Mike La Tulip to knock down nine consecutive free throws to seal the win.

The loss dropped Green Bay a half game behind Oakland for second place and a half game ahead of WSU and Northern Kentucky.

The Raiders return to action Thursday at Youngstown State.

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