Raiders shut down Oakland to maintain league control

January 28, 2018

By Mike Klingshirn

DAYTON, Ohio – The Wright State Raiders solidified their first-place lead in the Horizon League with a 64-51 victory over the third-place Oakland Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon at the Nutter Center.

The 51 points scored by the Grizzlies were 30 under their season average of 81.7 points per game. Oakland shot less than 31-percent from the field (16-of-52), including 4-of-24 from beyond the arc for the game.

Oakland’s Kendrick Nunn, who entered the game on pace to break Steph Curry’s single-season record for three-pointers made (162), was held to just 2-of-12 from behind the arc. Through his first 22 games, Nunn had made 97 three-pointers, while Curry had 90 after the same number of games.

“We weren’t great offensively, but we were really good defensively,” said Wright State head coach Scott Nagy. “Mark Hughes struggled offensively, but boy, he’s been good defensively.”

“On the ball, he’s about as good as I’ve ever coached. He gives himself up every night to guard the best player. And with Nunn in here, we know that he’s the best player, and Mark did a great job.”

Oakland (14-9, 6-4 HL) entered the contest on a five-game winning streak. Their last loss — also at the hands of the Raiders – came in an overtime battle at Oakland on January 7.

With the win, the Raiders (17-6, 9-1 HL), have won ten of their last eleven contests, and continue to lead Northern Kentucky by one game in the league standings. An Oakland victory would have put the Grizzlies in the thick of the league race, at just one game behind both WSU and NKU. But with the loss, Oakland falls three games behind Wright State with eight games left to play.

“This was an important game for us, obviously, to push to lead back out in terms of the league,” Nagy said.

This was the fourth game in a row on the road for Oakland.

“You get to the point where it just wears you out, even when you travel home and go back out,” Nagy said. “They just looked tired in the second half.”

“It’s kind of how we were in Milwaukee, when we had so many games in the row on the road. It’s tough on your legs, and your mind, and everything else. But they (Oakland) had a great run. They won three of those road games.”

Loudon Love made his presence felt early. Wright State’s 6-foot-9 freshman center scored his team’s first seven points and had grabbed four rebounds before the first media timeout, giving his team an early 7-2 lead.

The Grizzlies responded by scoring the next seven points to take a brief 2-point advantage — their only lead of the afternoon — before Wright State went on a 10-0 run to put the Raiders back on top 17-9, midway through the first half.

The Raiders stretched the margin to 37-21, before Oakland’s Kendrick Nunn banked a three-pointer off of the glass from the behind the top of the arc, to narrow the WSU’s halftime lead to 37-24.

Love finished the first half with a double-double: 15 points and 11rebounds.

Wright State came out of the locker room a bit sluggish, and Oakland capitalized off of three straight WSU turnovers to close the gap to 42-35 with 15:42 left.

That’s when Everett Winchester sank a pair of free throws, and Jaylon Hall scored five quick points on a jumper and three-pointer. Love added a free throw, and Parker Ernsthausen capped the 12-0 Raider run with a pair of layups to give Wright State their largest lead of the contest 54-35 with 9:50 to play.

That proved to be the turning point of the game.

“Jaylon had five straight points there,” Nagy said. “He ran out on that break and got to the corner. That’s kind of where I thought they started to look tired, and Jaylon got a wide open shot.”

“And they had some tough mismatches, like Hayes on Jaylon, figuring they’ve got to put him on a freshman. But that’s not an easy guard for him. He’s used to guarding big guys and not guards.”

Oakland got to within 60-49 with 4:15 left, but eventually fell to Wright State by the final score of 64-51.

The bulk of Oakland’s offensive firepower comes from three players. Kendrick Nunn, Jalen Hayes, and Martez Walker entered the game averaging 26.8, 19.6, and 18.2 points respectively, for 64.6 of Oakland’s 81.7 average points per game. This afternoon followed a similar script with Nunn (18), Hayes (13), and Walker (11) scoring all but nine of their team’s 51 points.

Wright State won the battle of the boards 46-31. The Raiders bench outscored Oakland’s bench 22-2, with freshmen Jaylon Hall and Everett Winchester scoring 15 and 7 points respectively.

The Raiders shot 24-of-63 from the field, including 5-of-18 from beyond the arc, and 11-of 13 from the charity stripe.

Loudon Love, who had 25 points and 17 rebounds in the season’s earlier matchup with the Grizzlies, finished this game with 18 points and 17 rebounds.

“He’s had an unbelievable season so far, and I hope he keeps going,” Nagy said. “We’re awfully proud of him.”

Series History

With the season sweep, Wright State improves to 11-7 in the all-time series record against Oakland.

Up Next

The Raiders hit the road for a pair of contests against Cleveland State and Youngstown State, before returning home for a four-game home stand, which will be the final four games of the regular season played at the Nutter Center. The opponents for that home stand will be Green Bay, Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky, and Cleveland State, beginning on Thursday February 8 with a 7:30 pm tipoff against the Green Bay Phoenix.

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