Senior Night Ceremony
Coach and player speeches
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar
By Steve Granata
FAIRBORN – Wright State fell to Oakland 89-73 in a battle for sole possession of second place in the Horizon League Monday night at the Nutter Center.
Coming off a 61-59 win over the number one team in the conference Valparaiso on Saturday night, the Raiders were looking to continue their streak of good fortune against Oakland. Both teams were tied for second place in the Horizon League with identical 10-4 conference records coming into tonight’s game. With just three regular season games left on the schedule it was a game with a lot on the line as the Raiders are looking to stay on top of the Horizon League standings and fight for top seeding in the Horizon League tournament come March. The last time these two teams met was in Oakland on January 29th in which the Raiders lost 89-63. The Raider’s effort to even the score fell short as the red hot Golden Grizzlies shot lights out and seemed near flawless in the decisive victory over Wright State.
“Tip our hats to Oakland,” said senior guard Joe Thomasson. “They beat us twice; they are the only team in the league to be able to do it. They played well, credit those guys.”
“We battled back, but we still have to play with more urgency,” said Mark Alstork. “If the team is losing you have to play with more urgency than the other team. Today they wanted it more.”
Mark Alstork led the Raiders scoring with 18 points, Joe Thomasson added 13 points and Biggie Minnis chipped in 12 points. Justin Mitchell contributed nicely off the bench with 8 points. Martez Walker scored 22 points and was 4-4 from 3-point range to lead Oakland while Jalen Hayes had 17 points, Kay Felder had 15 points and Percy Gibson added 14 points to contribute to the win.
Oakland moved out to a 7-2 advantage, but Wright State came back with a J.T Yoho 3-pointer and two consecutive baskets by Biggie Minnis to take the lead at 9-7. With the Raiders down six points at the 10:29 mark Michael Karena scored on a reverse layup and Thomasson connected on a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to one point. Biggie Minnis then made two free throws with 7:38 in the first half to give the Raiders a one point lead 23-22.
Oakland moved out to a 16 point lead in the second half at the 16:26 mark only to see it slowly diminished as Thomasson’s 3-pointer sparked a 9-2 run to trim the lead back to a manageable eight points. Then with 8:50 remaining Thomasson went in the lane for a layup, then on the next possession got the assist as he found Justin Mitchell moving to the basket for the reverse layup to cut the lead to six points 64-58.
That is as close as the Raiders would get though as Oakland exploded in the following three minutes going on a 16-2 run that buried Wright State for the night. The Raiders would never recover as they watched the Golden Grizzlies secure the win and sole possession of second place in the Horizon League, for now. In this league anybody can beat anybody on any given night, so tighten your seatbelts it should be an interesting ride to the finish. Wright State drops to 16-12 overall and 10-5 in the Horizon League, Oakland improves to 19-9, 11-4.
“Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team,” said Coach Billy Donlon. “Our fans won’t feel good about it, but for us there is still a lot to play for. If we win out and they (Oakland) lose one more, we are tied for second. We have to do what we can do to take care of business and beat a good Northern Kentucky team at home on Saturday, because that’s what’s next.”
“We have got to focus on the next game,” said Thomasson. “We still have a chance to come in second and reach our goal. We’ve got to be better and come with a greater sense of urgency for Saturday’s game. We’ve got to bounce back and get ready for Saturday.”
The Raider’s shot 40 percent from the field, Oakland shot 46 per cent. The Raiders were 6 of 16 from 3-point range for 38 percent, Oakland was 11 of 19 for 58 percent. Oakland was also on point at the foul line connecting on 22 of 23 free throws for 96 percent, the Raiders were 21 of 27 for 78 percent.
The Raider’s will be back in action this coming Saturday, Feb.20 as they host Northern Kentucky. Tipp off is at 7:00 p.m. at the Nutter Center.
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar
By Mike Klingshirn
DAYTON, Ohio – The Wright State Raiders maintained their share of second place in the Horizon League standings with a dominating 79-60 victory over the Green Bay Phoenix on Saturday night at the Nutter Center.
The Raiders took control within the game’s first ten minutes. Layups by JT Yoho and Biggie Minnis started a 17-3 Wright State run to put their team on top 22-8 with 11:55 left in the half. It was a double-digit lead that they maintained for the remainder of the contest. The Raiders gradually built their lead, the largest of the night at 43-22, before heading into the halftime locker room with a 43-26 advantage.
Wright State (15-10, 9-3 HL) forced Green Bay (14-10, 6-5 HL) into 12 first half turnovers, which allowed them to outscore the Phoenix 23-2 in points off of turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
“Green Bay does a good job at getting you out of your defensive principles,” Billy Donlon said. “You’ve got to stay disciplined, and I thought that we did.”
Green Bay drew to within 48-36 with 16:43 left to play, but the Raiders answered with layups by Michael Karena and Justin Mitchell, capped by an Alan Vest trey to extended the Green and Gold lead to 55-36 one minute later.
The Phoenix once again got to within ten points at 61-51 with 7:01 to go. But Grant Benzinger put the game out of reach by hitting four 3-pointers in four attempts over the next three-and-a-half minutes to put his team comfortably on top 77-57. Wright State went on from there to win 79-60.
The Phoenix entered the game as the nation’s third best scoring team, averaging 86.5 points per game. Their 60 points scored against WSU was their season low point total in a game this season. Green Bay’s previous low came in a 66-63 victory over Akron on November 24.
The Phoenix may have shown the signs of fatigue that comes from playing seven out of nine games on the road.
“They were tired,” Billy Donlon said. “We were playing at home and they were four days in a hotel. They’re very good. You did not see the best Green Bay team today.”
Wright State was led by a balanced scoring attack. Five Raiders scored in double figures: Biggie Minnis (13), sophomore Grant Benzinger (12), Michael Karena (10), freshman Mark Hughes (10), and sophomore Justin Mitchell (10). Although he did not score in double figures, JT Yoho grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and also dished out a team-high five assists.
With the win, Wright State snapped a five-game losing streak to the Phoenix. The Raiders last defeated Green Bay 70-68 in double overtime on the road on February 7, 2013. WSU trails in the all-time series 29-25.
The Raiders hit the road for a pair of games with UIC and Valparaiso before returning home on Monday February 15 for a battle against the Oakland Grizzlies. Tip-off is set for the unusual time of 5:00 pm.
By Stephen Granata
FAIRBORN – J.T. Yoho scored 29 points and Joe Thomasson hit a free throw with 3 seconds remaining that helped power the Raiders to an 84-83 Horizon League thriller at the Nutter Center Thursday night.
After suffering two disappointing losses on the road to Oakland and Detroit the Raiders got a big win over an always tough Milwaukee team. Although the Raiders held a commanding 20 point lead at one point in the first half and as high as a 15 point lead in the second half Milwaukee managed to tie the game in the final seconds to threaten the Raider win. Key baskets by Mark Alstork, and Thomason combined with a crucial free throw by Yoho and a final free throw by Thomasson helped to avoid what could have been a disappointing loss on the Raider home floor.
“We feel like we gave away two games, “said senior Joe Thomasson concerning the two road losses. “It feels good to be going back in the right direction. Instead of being targets, coach wants us to be heroes; I feel that is how we came out tonight. There are still people out there who didn’t believe in us and what we stand for, us bouncing back and sweeping Milwaukee, that is a great basketball team right there, credit them. It feels good to fight, face adversity; we came together again, got the win and pulled it out.”
“I’m just really happy for our players, “said Coach Billy Donlon concerning the win. “To get on a run like we did and end up losing a game or two, it’s like starting your season in the NFL 0-8. Oakland is very good and they are playing at a very high level, Detroit was a typical Horizon League game, we were on the road with a one point lead with 2:20 to go and we couldn’t close it.”
“I have so much respect for Rob (Milwaukee Head Coach Rob Jeter), “Donlon added. “He has been a coach in this league for eleven maybe twelve years now, they have really good players. It’s always hard to beat Milwaukee, it doesn’t matter where, you are going to have to score to beat Milwaukee. Our guys were phenomenal on the offensive end, we have good players, you can’t do some of the things we did offensively tonight and not have very good players, we have very good players.”
Along with Yoho’s 29 points, Joe Thomasson added 15 and Alstork scored 14 to lead the Raiders in the win. At the beginning of the game J.T. Yoho was honored for reaching the 1,000 point scoring mark which he achieved in the Oakland game then exceeded in the Detroit game. Against Detroit Yoho achieved a season high 31 points and became the 30th member of the 1,000 Point Club.
“If there is a guy on our team in this game who can’t get into foul trouble its J.T. Yoho, “said Coach Donlon. “His numbers speak for themselves, J.T.’s ability to stay in the game was crucial, we had to win this one so we played him 39 (minutes) tonight and we will see what happens on Saturday.”
The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders as they moved in front of Milwaukee 7-2 as Michael Karena scored inside, Mark Alstork knocked down a 3-pointer and Yoho hit a jumper. Milwaukee quickly closed the gap by taking advantage of a number of shaky WSU called fouls that had the Raider fans riled up. Milwaukee’s Matt Tiby, who is not a Raider Nation favorite hit a bucket then connected on the “and one” to cut the lead to one point and a 7-6 score.
At the 12:22 mark the Raiders went on a 15-2 run that featured three consecutive Joe Thomason baskets, one off a drive to the hoop and two 3-pointers that brought the crowd to their feet and extended the lead to 19 points with 9:36 left in the half. Milwaukee answered with another free throw, but a Yoho drive to the hoop gave the Raiders their largest lead of the night of 20 points and a 35-15 advantage with 8:55 left in the half.
Milwaukee fought back cutting the lead down to 10 points as Jordan Johnson drained a 3-pointer and Cody Wichmann hit two free throws. Milwaukee pulled within 7 points as Akeem Springs and Austin Arians delivered 3-pointers to cut the lead to 47-40 at the 1:11 mark. But that is as close as Milwaukee would get in the first half as the Raiders were shooting lights out 70 per cent from the field and 78 per cent from 3-point range to carry WSU into halftime with a 52-42 advantage.
WSU came out in the second half in full attack mode as Yoho, Thomason and Benzinger drained 3-pointers then Biggie Minnis drove the lane and dished to Parker Ernsthausen for the score that put the Raiders up by 15 points at the 14:21 mark and a 64-49 advantage.
With the score 71-61 with 9:06 to play in the game Austin Arians was fouled on a made 3-point shot, then hit the free throw that capped a 4 point play to cut the Raider lead down to 9 points and another 3-pointer by Springs shaved the lead to just 7 points at the 7:41 mark. But a Milwaukee technical foul put Thomason on the line to make a free throw then gave the ball back to the Raiders. WSU scored on the next possession as Mark Hughes scored on a layup and Biggie Minnis hit the free throw to put the Raiders up by a more comfortable 11 points with 5:10 remaining in the game.
But the pesky Milwaukee team would not go away as they widdled the Raider lead down to 4 points with a 9-3 run that culminated with an Arians basket at the 2:27 mark. With the score 78-74 Alstork got the put back off his own missed shot to give the Raiders an 80-74 advantage with 1:12 to go in the game.
Milwaukee came back with two free throws, then Raider senior point guard Joe Thomason knocked down a step back jumper with 35 seconds remaining to give WSU the lead at 80-76.
Milwaukee answered with a 3-pointer by J.R. Lyle with 25 seconds remaining to cut the Raider lead to 3 points, 82-79. Milwaukee then cut the lead to 1 point as Springs scored off the steal making the score 82-81 with 17 second remaining. On the next possession J.T. Yoho drew the foul and hit the front end of a one and one to make the score 83-81 with 15 seconds remaining. On Milwaukee’s next possession Tiby drained his two free throws to tie the game at 83-83 with 5 seconds remaining. The Raiders inbounded the ball threw it Thomason who crossed the time line and was fouled with 3.2 seconds remaining.
Thomason hit one of the two free throws to put the Raiders back into the lead 84-83. With time running out Milwaukee threw up a desperation shot that missed to give the Raiders the close win.
Leading scorers for Milwaukee were Akeem Springs 21 points, Austin Arians 18 points, Jordon Johnson 16 points and Matt Tiby added 10 points.
WSU shot 56 per cent from the field, Milwaukee shot 53 per cent. WSU was 11-19 from 3-point range for 58 per cent, Milwaukee was 9-18 for 50 per cent. The Raiders were 17-24 from the free throw line for 71 per cent; Milwaukee was 26-34 for 77 per cent.
The Raiders (14-10) face Green Bay (14-9) on Saturday, Feb.6, 7:00 p.m. at the Nutter Center.
Records: WSU 14-10, 8-3 HL, Milwaukee 15-8, 6-4 HL
By Mike Klingshirn
DAYTON, Ohio – The Wright State Raiders completed the five-game sweep of their just concluded homestand with an 80-66 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. By defeating UIC, the Flames (2-17, 0-8) remain winless against Division I competition on the season.
Wright State (13-8, 7-1 HL) got off to a sluggish start, possibly showing some signs of fatigue from playing their fifth game in just ten days. They found themselves trailing the Flames 17-11 seven minutes into the contest.
“We came out a little flat,” JT Yoho said. “Five games in ten days might have gotten into our legs.”
“My legs were dead on a couple of shots,” Mark Alstork said. “Five games in ten days are hard for any college team, so we just had to battle through.”
Yoho, however, hit a trey and a jumper to begin a 17-2 Raider run to put his team on top 28-19 with 7:23 left in the half.
UIC narrowed the margin to 33-27. But Wright State scored the next eight points to make it 41-27, before heading into the halftime locker room on top 44-32.
The Raiders maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the second half. The Flames narrowed the margin to 49-42 at the 15:58 mark, but that was as close as they would get.
Up 61-51 midway through the second half, WSU gradually built their largest lead of the afternoon at 78-59 with 3:28 to play.
At that point, Donlon cleared his bench and the Raiders went on to win 80-66.
Mark Alstork led Wright State with 19 points and a career-high 9 rebounds. Three other Raiders scored in double figures: Yoho (16), Biggie Minnis (13), and Grant Benzinger (11). Minnis also contributed with six assists.
UIC won the battle of the boards 40-27.
Today’s win was the 100th in the career of head coach Billy Donlon at Wright State. He is just the second WSU coach to reach that plateau. Donlon now stands 256 victories behind the legendary Ralph Underhill.
“I’ve played for him all four of my years,” Yoho said. “So to see him achieve that, definitely means a lot to me.”
“I’m sure everyone will say ‘it took me long enough,’” Donlon joked. “I will never include last year into my record … ever! I will argue until I am blue in the face. Have every other team in America play without their best four players and tell me how they do.”
With that said, coach Donlon now sits at 89 victories, so there is really nothing more to write about.
JT Yoho scored 16 points in today’s game, giving him 992 for his career at Wright State. With another 8 points, he will become the 30th Raider to score 1,000.
Ten of the fifteen members of the WSU men’s basketball team were recognized at halftime for making the Academic Honor Role.
With today’s victory by the Raiders, the all-time WSU/UIC series is tied at 26-26.
With today’s conclusion of the 5-game homestand, the Raiders travel to the state of Michigan for a pair of games against Oakland (Jan. 29) and Detroit (Jan. 31). They return home for a pair of games against Milwaukee (Thurs. Feb. 4) and Green Bay (Sat. Feb. 6). Both games at the Nutter Center tip off at 7:00 pm.
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar
By Mike Klingshirn
DAYTON, Ohio – The Wright State Raiders grabbed a share of first place in the Horizon League on Friday night, with a thrilling 73-62 come-from-behind victory over the Valparaiso Crusaders.
The first half was a typical Wright State/Valpo slugfest. The Raiders (12-8, 6-1 HL) grabbed the early edge by holding Valpo scoreless over the game’s first six minutes, while scratching their way to an early 6-0 advantage.
Darien Walker came off the Crusader bench and hit three treys over the next two minutes to get his team close at 10-9.
The Raiders led 13-9 midway through the half, when the Crusaders scored nine consecutive points to take their first lead of the night at 18-13 with 6:22 left in the half.
Valparaiso (16-4, 6-1 HL) maintained a 25-19 lead and were looking to take the last shot before the end of the half. Walker missed a 3-point attempt with two seconds showing on the clock. Mark Hughes grabbed the rebound for WSU and quickly got an outlet pass to Grant Benzinger along the left sideline. From in front of his team’s bench, Benzinger tossed the ball 60-feet across the court. The ball banked dead-center off of the painted square on the backboard glass and into the hoop. It sent his team, in celebration, to the halftime locker room trailing by only three at 25-22.
“Benzinger’s shot at the end of the half was huge for us,” JT Yoho said. “It goes from a six-point lead to a three-point lead. That’s a big difference.”
Valpo’s large starting lineup consisted of 6’10” Vashil Fernandez, 6’9” Alec Peters, and 6’8” David Skara. Their height altered several Raider shot attempts, which contributed to seven missed layups in the half.
Walker was Valparaiso’s hot hand in the game’s first twenty minutes. He went 5-of-6 from the field — all three-pointers — while the rest of his team hit just five first-half shots.
“When a guy makes five threes in a half, like Darien Walker did, normally you give up 42. We gave up 25,” Billy Donlon said. “So give our guys an incredible amount of credit for the defense they played.”
The Crusaders opened the second half by building a 41-32 lead with 13:22 left to play. They could have stretched their advantage even more, but JT Yoho was instrumental in keeping the Raiders in the game by hitting a trio of big jumpers during that stretch.
It was then when Joe Thomasson hit a jump shot and a pair of free throws to begin a 16-0 run that sent Wright State back on top 48-41 with 9:49 left to play.
Valpo wasted little time to even the score 51-51 on a Peters 3-pointer with 7:28 remaining. A Michael Karena layup and Benzinger trey made it 56-51 Raiders, before E. Victor Nickerson put the Crusaders back on top 57-56 on a thunderous slam dunk with 3:36 left.
Mark Alstork answered for WSU on his team’s next possession with a clutch basket from behind the arc in front of his team’s bench to go back up 59-57. The Raiders turned up the defensive pressure and held Valpo scoreless over the next two minutes, while scoring five more points to stretch their lead to 64-57 with exactly one minute to play.
Joe Thomasson hit seven free throws down the stretch and Yoho made two more to seal the 73-62 Wright State victory.
After hitting 8 out of 26 shot attempts in the first half, the Raiders were 14-of-23 in the second half for 61-percent against the fourth best defense in the country. How did they do it?
“We have really good players,” Donlon said. “Grant Benzinger can make a three. JT Yoho can make plays. Joe Thomasson can drive it, shoot it, and pass it. Biggie Minnis can drive it, pass it, and get to the rim. Michael Karena was outstanding. His box score won’t look it, but he played 32 minutes and we needed him in the game for every ounce.”
Joe Thomasson led WSU with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Yoho scored 18 and grabbed 6 boards. Alstork also scored in double figures with 12 points.
Alec Peters recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Darien Walker, who played just five minutes in the second half, finished with 17 points.
Valpo won the battle of the boards 42-31, including 14 on the offensive end of the court. Wright State outscored the Crusaders from the free throw line by going 21-of-29, while Valpo went 8-of-11.
With the victory, Wright State leads the all-time series over Valpo 14-13.
Tonight’s victory was win number 99 for head coach Billy Donlon. With the next Raider win, he will become just the second WSU coach to reach 100 victories.
JT Yoho scored 18 points, giving him 976 for his career at Wright State. He will be the 30th Raider to score 1,000 points with another 24 points.
The Raiders conclude this current 5-game homestand with a Sunday matinee contest (Jan. 24) against the UIC Flames. Tip-off is set for 2:00 pm.
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar
By Mike Klingshirn
DAYTON, Ohio – The Wright State Raiders continued their winning ways against the Youngstown State Penguins by winning for the seventh time in their last eight outings … this time, by the convincing score of 81-45.
The Penguins (7-12, 2-4 HL) entered the game without the services of their 6-foot-10 all-conference-caliber center, Bobby Hain, who was injured a few games ago and is out for the remainder of the season. The Raiders, on the other hand, seem to have gotten healthy and have hit their stride after a slow start to the season. They look like a different team than the one we saw over the first ten games of the season.
Why the turnaround?
“We were willing to get better,” Mark Alstork said. “The coaches did a great job of keeping us going and keeping us on a positive note. We didn’t get down on each other, but helped each other instead. At the end of the day, we’re the ones one the floor. It’s got to be a player-led locker room as the coaches say.”
“Winning matters, especially with today’s kid,” Billy Donlon said. “I also think health matters. The bottom line is we’re healthy, we won some games, and we have confidence. That’s what winning does.”
Wright State (10-8, 4-1 HL) got off to a quick start and never looked back. Alstork began the night by scoring the contest’s first four points and Michael Karena hit a layup to quickly put the Raiders up 6-0.
With the Raiders on top 11-6, Todd Benzinger provided an early hot-hand by scoring nine of his team’s next eleven points on a pair of jumpers, two free throws and a 3-pointer, stretching his team’s lead to 22-11 midway into the half. Buckets by JT Yoho and Alstork made it 26-11.
The Penguins answered with a 7-0 run to pull within 26-18. But from there, Wright State increased their lead to 43-26, capped by a Benzinger 3-pointer and free throw, which followed a foul on the made basket with 3.2 seconds left before the half.
YSU’s Cameron Morse did his best to keep his team close by scoring 15 of his team’s 26 first half points. The Raiders, meanwhile, hit just 3-of-13 from behind the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes, while going 15-of-21 from the rest of the field. They also added four points from the charity stripe.
Wright State came out of the locker room with a 10-3 run before the first media time out, and continued to pull away to go up 63-35 with 11:41 to play. By then, coach Donlon had already cleared his bench, with his starting-five out of the lineup and resting for the remainder of the contest.
The new faces continued the Raider onslaught by going on a 10-0 run of their own, highlighted by four points from Justin Mitchell and back to back 3-pointers by Daniel Mortensen, giving WSU their largest lead of the night at 73-35 with 8:21 left.
Wright State went on to win by the eventual final score of 81-45.
The Penguins, who recorded just three assists in the game, were forced into 19 turnovers which resulted in 17 Green & Gold points. Wright State also outscored YSU 32-12 in the paint.
The Raiders were not especially effective from behind the arc, hitting just 7-of-26 three-point attempts. It should be noted that they are undefeated at 3-0, in games in which they have hit less than five 3-pointers in a game.
Is this an indicator that the Wright State can beat you in more ways than one?
“Offensively, we can run in transition with you. We can play with you inside and outside. It’s a good team that way.” Donlon said. “Even though we took 13 threes in the first half, the ball still got inside a lot. A lot of those threes were inside-out threes. We didn’t just throw the ball around the perimeter and jack them up.”
Four Raiders scored in double figures: Michael Karena (13), Grant Benzinger (13), Mark Alstork (13), and JT Yoho (12). Joe Thomasson led his team in rebounding by pulling down five boards.
Cameron Morse led the Penguins with 18 points.
With the victory, Wright State owns a 41-11 record in the all-time series with YSU.
The Raiders will take on the Detroit Titans in game number three of this current 5-game homestand on Monday January 18. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar
by Steve Granata
FAIRBORN – Grant Benzinger scored 17 points to lead the Raiders past Cleveland State 70-53 in a Horizon League matchup at the WSU Nutter Center Thursday night.
Benzinger found his stroke, groove, touch, whatever you want to call it, his teammates, coaches and fans were glad he did. He looked like the Benzinger of old lighting up the 3-point line and terrorizing the opposition. Benzinger had five 3-pointers, but wasn’t the only one lighting up the night, J.T. Yoho also connected on three 3-pointers and Mark Alstork added two more, the Raiders had 10 in all to cruise to their sixth win out of the last seven games.
“It felt good to finally hit some shots, “said Benzinger. “I’ve got to credit my teammates on that because I’ve been shooting it well in practice and they’ve been encouraging me to take shots.”
“He is a specialist, said senior guard Joe Thomasson. “That’s what we label him as on our team, in order for us to be successful he needs to do his job. Tonight payed off, it makes the game easier when he is making shots.”
The Raiders jumped out to a 6-2 lead as Benzinger drove to the basket for a reverse layup and Michael Karena hit a one of his signature jump hooks at the 16:00 mark. Cleveland State came back with a 3-pointer by Dayton Dunbar grad Andre Yates and a Rob Edwards layup to go in front 7-6. WSU then went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead as Biggie Minnis hit two consecutive baskets, the last being a steal and layup to take a 14-7 lead. Cleveland State cut the lead to two points on a Demonte Flannigan layup at the 11:02 mark, but that is when the Raiders began to separate themselves. A 3-pointer by Alstork, a Karena bucket and free throw and two Benzinger 3-pointers got things rolling for the Raiders as they took their largest lead of the night by 12 points with 4:38 left in the first half. WSU kept a 10 point cushion as Benzinger connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the half with a 42-32 advantage.
It was bombs away as the Raiders started the second half connecting on four straight 3-pointers that ignited the crowd and culminated in a 15 point lead. Cleveland State fought back, showing signs of life as Andre Yates connected on another 3-pointer to cut the lead back to ten points at the 9:34 mark. But that was as close as the Vikings would get as the Raiders put the pedal to the metal and went on a 13-2 run that would insure the victory and sink any hope for a Cleveland State comeback.
“I’m proud of the defensive effort in the second half, said Coach Billy Donlon. “We made a couple of adjustments at half time, the guys really responded well. Another great team win, when you have 16 assists on 25 baskets and only 7 turnovers, give the players in that locker room all the credit in the world for what they have done these last seven or eight weeks.”
“We haven’t reached our peak yet, said Thomason, “We are hungry and determined to reach our peak, we are trying to send a message to the league, we are here and the Raiders are here to play.”
With the win Wright State improved to 9-8 overall and 3-1 in the Horizon League, Cleveland State dropped to 5-13, 0-5.
Wright State (9-8, 3-1) will be back in action at the Nutter Center on Saturday, Jan. 16 as they host Youngstown State (7-10, 2-2) in game two of a five-game home stand. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m.
Leading scorers for the Raiders were Grant Benzinger 17 points, 5 of 8 from 3-point range, Michael Karena 16 points, Mark Alstork 13 points, J.T. Yoho 11 points and Biggie Minnis added 9 points and 5 Assists. Joe Thomasson had 6 rebounds and 6 Assists to contribute to the Raider win.
Leading scorers for Cleveland State were Andre Yates with 14 points and Kenny Carpenter had 9 points.
Both teams shot 47 percent for the game, but the Raiders made 10 of 25 threes for 40 percent compared to 3 of 14 and only 21 percent for CSU. WSU also led 25-8 in points off turnovers as they forced 15 miscues while committing only seven.
Photos © and Courtesy of Tim G. Zechar