Wright State staged a furious rally in the final minutes and turned a one-sided game at Indiana State into a tight tussle, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 69-63 loss Saturday and fall to 0-2 on the road and 0-4 away from the Nutter Center.
“I feel the first half is where we lost the game,” coach Scott Nagy said on his post-game radio show. “The second half we competed hard. We played like we believed we could win. In the first half, there were so many loose balls that we just weren’t getting. We’re a very average team right now.”
The Raiders had nine of their 13 turnovers while falling behind 31-27 in the first half, which ended with a Mark Hughes half-court buzzer-beater.
More glaring to Nagy, though, was the inability to get to the free throw line, going 0-for-0.
“You can sit around and blame the officials for that, or you can blame the way we’re playing, how soft we are,” Nagy said. “Particularly offensively, we were very soft. When we’d drive, they’d bump us and knock us off line instead of us going through them.”
Bill Wampler led the Raiders (4-4) with 22 points. Loudon Love had his fourth straight double-double and fifth of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but he went 5-of-17 from the field.
Cole Gentry had eight points, nine assists and no turnovers in 39 minutes.
The Raiders rotated only seven players. Freshman guard Skyelar Potter had nine points and Alan Vest three off the bench.
Trailing 63-54 with 2:53 to go, Wright State put on a surge to cut the deficit to two.
Gentry made a jumper and a pair of foul shots, and Wampler drilled a 3-pointer with 1:20 to go.
But Clayton Hughes made a jumper, and 6-3 guard De’Avion Washington blocked a shot by the 6-8 Loudon Love.
Jordan Barnes was then fouled and made a pair of free throws for a six-point lead with 38 seconds left.
“Our defense isn’t good enough, and neither is our offense,” Nagy said. “We’re just not scoring. We shoot 38 percent, and Loudon Love goes 5-for-17 with shots around the rim. If Loudon doesn’t shoot a high percentage around there, it makes it tough on us.
“They basically looked at him and said, ‘We can go one-on-on with him,’ and they did. He got whipped tonight, and nobody feels worse about it than he does.”
Nagy was frustrated with his team’s defense after the Cancun Challenge when SMU shot 55.6 percent from the field and Penn State 58.0. The Raiders held Division-II Cedarville to 23.1-percent shooting Tuesday, but Indiana State (5-1) made 7-of-13 three-pointers and were 24-of-50 (48 percent) overall.
Barnes, an All-Missouri Valley Conference pick, had a game-high 24 points to lead Indiana State to its fifth straight win.