Balanced attack and defense lead to Raider victory over Kent State

December 10, 2017

By Mike Klingshirn

DAYTON, Ohio – Despite seeing their three best shooters combine for just 3-of-19 from beyond the arc, the Wright State Raiders used a balanced scoring attack and some outstanding team defense to defeat the Kent State Golden Eagles 63-54 on Saturday afternoon in front of 3,448 at the Nutter Center.

The Raiders were led by four players scoring in double figures: Grant Benzinger (13), Parker Ernsthausen (11), Jaylon Hall (11), and Everett Winchester (10). Justin Mitchell grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.

Wright State head coach Scott Nagy was pleased with his team’s balanced scoring. “I like that,” Nagy said. “Obviously, any coach would want that. When we played Western Kentucky, they had six players who averaged double figures in scoring, and I had never seen that before. We are very, very close to having that. We just need to shoot a better percentage. … We got good shots tonight. That’s all you can ask for.”

“The key is to not let it affect the defensive end. Mark (Hughes) and Grant (Benzinger) did a good job of not letting it affect that end.”

The Golden Eagles (5-5) opened the contest by scoring the game’s first five points. Wright State (6-4) answered with the next seven on three free throws by Benzinger, a layup by Louden Love, and a layup by Ernsthausen to go up 7-5.

Both teams battled to a 17-all tie until the Raiders went on a 12-2 run to go up 29-19 at the 2:48 mark and eventually headed into the halftime locker room with a 31-24 advantage.

Leading 33-28, Wright State blew the game open and took command for good on a layup by Justin Mitchell, followed by a three-pointer and layup by Grant Benzinger to increase the WSU lead to 40-28 with 15:37 left to play.

The Raiders led by as much as 54-40 with 6:04 to go. And a Jaylon Hall three-pointer made it 58-46 with 3:01 left.

Kent State drew to within 59-54 with 22 seconds remaining, due in part to the Raiders missing 3-of-4 free throw attempts and some turnovers. But Benzinger and Ernsthausen combined to hit 4-of-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch to preserve the 63-54 Wright State victory.

It’s not very often that a team shoots 4-of-22 from the threes and still win a game, but coach Nagy thought that his team did all of the things that define who they want to be.

“We’d like to be better offensively,” Nagy said, “And we’ll get there. I’m less concerned about that, and more concerned about us staying at the level that we were defensively, with the hustle plays. We saw kids on the floor making plays. I’m really pleased with the level that they are playing.”

“The key is to be consistent, and let that be who we are. The offense will come.”

Series History

With the victory, Wright State makes it three in a row over Kent State to improve to 3-2 in the all-time series.

A John Ross led Raiders team dropped the first-ever meeting between the two schools on January 16, 1974 by the final score of 87-78.

Kent State defeated Ralph Underhill’s Raiders 108-95 in February 1989 in their next encounter, followed by a Wright State 62-61 victory one year later, in the inaugural season of men’s basketball at the Nutter Center.

After 26 seasons, the series resumed with the Raiders winning on the road 68-63, over a Kent State team that earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Up Next

The Raiders embark on a three-game road trip (Toldeo, Missouri State, Georgia Tech) before returning home to begin Horizon League play on Thursday, December 28 against the UIC Flames. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

The Raiders return to the hardwood, again at the Nutter Center, less than 48 hours later, with a 4:00 pm match-up with the Horizon League’s newest member, IUPUI, on Saturday, December 30.

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