Raiders drop tough one to Milwaukee

February 11, 2018

By Mike Klingshirn

DAYTON, Ohio – The Milwaukee Panthers knocked the Wright State Raiders out of a first-place tie in the Horizon League with a 74-73 upset victory on Saturday night at the Nutter Center. It was a game that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate. But the Raiders fought back hard, nearly overcoming a 17-point deficit in the final five minutes of the game, only to fall on a missed shot attempt at the buzzer.

“It’s a little disheartening,” WSU’s Mark Hughes said after the game. “We fought all the way back and came up a little bit short. At the same time, seeing that we had the fight in us and stuck with it until the very end is also encouraging. It’s important to see that just when you’re down, things aren’t really over.”

Wright State (19-8, 11-3 HL) jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage before Milwaukee’s Brock Stull hit a three-pointer to put the Panthers up 8-6. It was a lead that they never relinquished.

Milwaukee (14-14, 7-8 HL) opened up a 15-8 margin and controlled most of the game. The Raiders drew to within 15-13 at the 11:28 mark, but the Panthers went up eight points by the scores of 25-17 and 32-24.

Mark Hughes and Grant Benzinger answered by hitting back-to-back treys to pull Wright State to within 32-30. However, Milwaukee closed out the final three minutes of the half with an 8-2 run to head into the locker room back on top by eight at 40-32.

“It’s not a great matchup for us because they’re more physical than we are,” WSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “And we’re hanging on by the skin of our teeth right now … physically. Parker (Ernsthausen) got hurt in the first half, and Everett (Winchester) is not to where he needs to be.”

The Panther steadily stretched their lead to 47-36 on a Carson Warren-Newsome three-pointer. That was the same score that the Raiders trailed Green Bay, two nights earlier, before staging a comeback win.

Was another comeback in the Raiders’ tank? For a long while, it did not seem likely. Milwaukee extended their advantage to 58-43 when Jeremiah Bell hit another three-pointer with 12:06 left to remain steadily in control.

The Panthers, who entered the game dead-last in the Horizon League in three-point field goal percentage, were on fire from behind the arc. They had connected on 10-of-14 three-point shot attempts in the game’s first 30 minutes.

Milwaukee continued on, stretching their lead to 70-53 with 5:33 remaining. But that’s when Wright State turned up the defensive pressure and Milwaukee decided to milk the 30-second shot clock in an effort to shorten the game. That combination led to a 17-3 Raider run over the next five minutes, which saw WSU close the gap to 73-70 on a Cole Gentry layup with 18 seconds left to play.

Milwaukee’s Warren-Newsome hit a free throw, before missing the second, to make it 74-70. The Raiders came quickly down the court and Benzinger swished a deep three-pointer to draw within 74-73 with 11 seconds to go.

Brock Stull was intentionally fouled with nine seconds showing on the clock and missed both free throw attempts. The Raiders grabbed the rebound. Cole Gentry rushed the ball up court, and dished it off to Benzinger who fired up a shot, near the top of the arc, but this time his shot bounced off of the rim and the Raiders fell by one point.

“You look at the stats … We turned it over eight times, we beat them on the boards, our kids played hard, but they (Milwaukee) shot the heck out of it,” Nagy said. “Some of it is we weren’t sharp defensively early. It was the same thing up there. They got going and we had a hard time getting them stopped. Some of it was them, and some of it was us.”

The Panthers hit 29-of-49 from the field, including 12-of-22 from three-point land.

Milwaukee’s bench outscored a thin Wright State bench 19-10.

Loudon Love continued his incredible season. The 6-foot-9, 275 pound freshman, led the Raiders with 20 points and 19 rebounds. Hughes and Benzinger added 19 and 14 points respectively.

Series History

With the loss and regular season sweep from Milwaukee, Wright state falls to 28-30 in the all-time series record to the Panthers.

Up Next

The Raiders host Northern Kentucky, in a battle for first place in the Horizon League at stake, on Friday February 16. Game time is set for 9 pm and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

“We’ll face a team on Friday that we beat,” Nagy said. “They’ll be motivated. They’re a lot deeper than us and probably a lot more healthy, at this point.”

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