Wright State falls into first-place tie after road loss

Wright State coach Scott Nagy during a game earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED

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Wright State coach Scott Nagy during a game earlier this season. CONTRIBUTED

Wright State has dominated Green Bay in recent seasons, winning five straight games. But with a chance to clinch a share of the Horizon League title, the Raiders couldn’t generate the intensity they needed while falling on the road, 70-67.

Sandy Cohen III, a preseason first-team all-conference pick, had 24 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and the revenge-minded Phoenix put together a stifling defensive effort Thursday.

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Sophomore center Loudon Love had 21 points and nine rebounds — moving into a tie for 10th on the Raiders’ all-time rebounding list with 576 in just two years — but the other four starters shot a combined 6 of 24.

After watching his players compete during spirited practices this week, Wright State coach Scott Nagy believed they’d be ready to play, especially with so much at stake. But except for a late spurt that made the game close, they were overmatched in the effort department.

“We were so soft tonight,” Nagy said on his post-game radio show. “In the first half, we couldn’t have played any worse, and they couldn’t have played any better. There was nothing we could run. We didn’t run anything right. Our kids just had one of those deer-in-the-headlights moments. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case, but it was.”

Nagy felt those five straight losses in the series were motivation for the Phoenix (16-14, 10-7).

“I thought the biggest factor was how many times we’d beaten these guys — Sandy Cohen had never beaten us until tonight — and it either makes kids tight where they can’t get over that hump. Or they say, ‘That’s enough, and I’m going to do something about it.’ I think you saw a Green Bay team that played like that,” he said.

The Raiders had their six-game winning streak snapped while falling to 18-12 overall and 12-5 in the league. They’re assured of at least a tie for the crown if they win at Milwaukee (9-21, 4-13) in the regular-season finale at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Northern Kentucky (22-8, 12-5) jumped into a first-place tie by rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit to pull out a 65-55 win at Milwaukee. The Norse, who played without preseason conference player of the year Drew McDonald (back spasms), will face Green Bay on the road at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Raiders trailed by 10 with 3:57 to go, but Malachi Smith, who had 12 points off the bench, hit two free throws, and Love scored on a put-back to cut the margin to six at 3:17.

Sub Bill Wampler, who had 18 points, made a 3-pointer at 2:03 to cut the deficit to 70-65. And after the teams traded empty possessions, Love converted a layup with 46 seconds left.

Cohen missed a jumper, and Smith tried to tie it on a 3 with seven seconds left. It bounced off the rim, but the ball went out of bounds off Green Bay with 1.5 ticks left.

After each time took timeouts, Wampler missed a hurried corner 3.

“I give our kids a lot of credit for not giving in, as poorly as things went for us the whole night. They gave us a chance at the end,” Nagy said.

“(But) our guards on the perimeter just got whipped. They just did. We’ve been whipping people for a while, but Green Bay had enough of it, and they did something about it.”

League tourney: The Wright State men's and women's teams will both have home games in the conference tourney quarterfinals Tuesday against opponents to be determined. The women will play at 5:30, the men at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the doubleheader are $10 for premium seats (first 12 rows) and $5 for general admission. Free parking will be available in lots 1 and 2.


SATURDAY’S GAME

Wright State at Milwaukee, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 106.5

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