Raiders don’t rebound, don’t win

FAIRBORN — It didn’t take long for Wright State coach Scott Nagy to figure out the story of Thursday’s game against Youngstown State.

“It’s the rebounding,” he said. “It’s pretty simple. Look at the rest of the stats, they’re fairly even. You just can’t get beat by 12 on the glass and think you’re going to win games.”

And that’s exactly what did — or maybe didn’t — happen.

The Penguins waddled into the Nutter Center and muscled their way to an 88-77 win, enjoying a 38-26 rebounding advantage, which included 13 at the offensive end leading to 19 second-chance points.

“The rebounding numbers are atrocious,” said sophomore forward Brandon Noel, who had 16 points and three rebounds. “It just seemed like they were more physical than us. They kind of wanted it more. I hate to say that. It’s just a tough game.”

Ten of YSU’s second-chance points came in the first half and allowed the Penguins to stay close. The Raiders — the top shooting team in the country — made 56.7 percent of their shots but led just 46-45 at halftime.

“It just felt like we were going to have to outscore them,” Nagy said. “They had eight offensive rebounds. It’s why they were in the game. We’ve already shown at that point that it doesn’t work very well for us. It’s pretty inconsistent.”

Youngstown State (17-6, 9-3 Horizon League) took a 60-59 lead with 16:05 left in the game and never trailed again. The lead reached 12 (77-65) with 6:52 left before the Raiders cut it to 77-71 with 5:32 left after two free throws from Noel, and then a jumper and layup from Tanner Holden. YSU’s Brett Thompson answered with a jump shot with 4:59 left to make the score 79-71 and then Holden again cut the lead to six with a jump shot with 3:57 left, but that was as close as the Raiders could get.

Wright State (12-11, 7-5) shot 50 percent for the game and made 17 of 22 from the line. But the Raiders couldn’t overcome the Penguins physicality inside the paint.

“They just whipped us on the glass,” Nagy said. “That’s the deal. We forced enough misses. We weren’t great defensively. We weren’t just the worst we’ve ever been. Can’t get the ball. If you get the ball the percentage is way less. It isn’t like I haven’t been complaining about this. It’s all I’ve been talking about.”

Trey Calvin led all scorers with 22 points, while AJ Braun added 16 and Holden 13.

Wright State is at Northern Kentucky Sunday and then hosts Detroit Mercy Thursday, Feb. 8.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.