Coming off of a dismal week’s stretch which saw the Raiders drop three straight road games by an average of 3 points, the Wright State Men’s Basketball team looked to get back in the win column as it hosted Youngstown State and Cleveland State at the Nutter Center last week.
Youngstown State would come to town sporting a 4-4 league mark while the Raiders were 5-5 in Horizon League play, each squad looking to get over the .500 mark and potentially claim third place in the standings. The Penguins jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, but the Raiders responded with a run of their own to earn a 17-16 advantage, capped off by a pair of Cole Darling free throws. Youngstown State would respond, again surging ahead 27-20, but Wright State fought for a 35-31 halftime lead, one they would not relinquish en route to a 77-67 victory.
Cole Darling paced Wright State scorers with 20 points, complimented by 11 from Hopkins and 10 each from Young and Pacher. The four would combine for 51 bench points compared to just 7 for the Penguins.
Billy Donlon’s squad then had two days of preparation for a red hot Cleveland State (17-9, 8-3) team which was coming off of three straight league victories on the road. The Vikings were also inspired by the opportunity to gain ground on league-leading Green Bay, which lost to Valparaiso, dropping to 9-2 in the Horizon League. In an ESPN2 Saturday Showcase, Wright State pushed a “Gold Rush” theme for those who attended, but it wasn’t meant to be as Cleveland State outlasted the Raiders 72-68, as Wright State continues to disappoint after widely being dubbed league favorites entering the season.
As has become the norm with Coach Donlon’s starting lineups, the Raiders fell behind early by an astounding 16-3 margin before storming back to gain a 31-29 halftime advantage on a Reggie Arceneaux trey with 34 seconds left. The Vikings then began the second half on an 18-7 run to earn a 47-38 lead with 10:56 remaining. Wright State would respond again, scoring 11 unanswered to pull ahead 49-47. It remained close down the stretch and the Raiders held the two point lead with 28 seconds left, only to see Cleveland State score 7 of the last 8 points and pull out a 72-68 heartbreaker over the Raiders, who continue to plummet in the Horizon League standings.
A Look Ahead:
Wright State will be off until Sunday, February 16th when the team will head to Oakland for a 1:00p.m. tipoff. The game can be seen at horizonleague.org.