FAIRBORN — The Wright State Raiders almost became the answer to an embarrassing trivia question: Who did Detroit Mercy beat to snap the nation’s longest current losing streak.
Fortunately for the Raiders, they did just enough at the end to prevent that dubious honor, holding on to defeat the Titans, 92-85, on Thursday. Detroit entered the game 0-24 and had lost 25 straight dating back to last season.
The Raiders led by as many as 22 and had a 50-32 halftime advantage only to see that trimmed to three points six times in the final seven minutes, causing Coach Scott Nagy to shake his head as he quickly scanned the final stats.
“I tried to tell them at halftime,” Nagy said. “We’re up 18 but (Detroit is) shooting 56 percent. I’m just sitting there watching guys shoot layups. I’m the only one upset about it. And I’m not on the floor. So there isn’t anything I can do about it.”
Detroit (0-25, 0-14 Horizon League) shot 62 percent in the second half and 59.6 percent for the game while making nine of 15 from three-point range. The 85 points were the most Detroit scored in regulation this season and it was one of the few times the Titans shot at least 50 percent.
“I wish they were as sick as I am of just being an awful defensive team,” Nagy said. “I want to be careful how I use my words. But we’re a tremendous offensive team. That is awesome, I love it. But you just can’t count on it to win championships. You’ve got to count on defense.”
But on this night, it was again the offense that carried the Raiders.
Up three with 1:51 left, AJ Braun made one of two from the line and then after a miss by Detroit, Alex Huibregtse hit a jumper after a Tanner Holden offensive rebound to increase the lead to 88-82 with 1:22 left.
Following a three pointer by Marcus Tankersley — who led all scorers with 29 points — Braun made a layup with 40 seconds left to increase the score 90-85.
“We just got a little nonchalant on defense I think in the second half,” Huibregtse said. “Defense fell apart on us.”
Nagy credited the Titans, coached by former Indiana University coach Mike Davis.
“I probably have more respect for his kids than I do any other team,” Nagy said. “I’ve watched enough film to know, they’ve had their head kicked in all year. And they’ve been in a bunch of close games. They’ve been down. They do not quit. To have a season like they’re having and your kids not quit, I think is incredible.”
That likely explains why Nagy was about as animated on the sideline as he’s been all year.
“I know I got to be in this deal to get them in it,” he said. “I get ready for all of them the same. Even this one I get ready more because I know they’re going to have a hard time. They all worry me the same. That’s the problem. They don’t all worry my players the same. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what I say. It’s human nature. I’m not necessarily blaming them. I’ve coached long enough to know sometimes it doesn’t matter what you say.”
Huibregtse and Trey Calvin led the Raiders with 18 points each, while Holden added 14, Braun 13, and Brandon Noel 11. Late in the first half Calvin made a mid-range jump shot to become the second WSU player to score 2,000 career points, joining Bill Edwards.
“It feels good,” Calvin said. “It’s a big milestone to be one of the two people at Wright State to do that. It definitely feels surreal. Definitely feeling blessed right now.”
Calvin and Edwards will likely have company soon. Holden needs just 16 points to hit 2,000 for his career. He has 1,887 career points at WSU and had 97 in one year at Ohio State.
The Raiders (14-11, 9-5) host Oakland at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Raiders are a game behind Oakland and Youngstown State in the Horizon League standings. Green Bay sits atop at 11-3
Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.