Raiders can’t dig out of early hole in loss

FAIRBORN — The oft-used cliche about turnabout being fair play was put to use against the Wright State Raiders Wednesday.

Less than two months after a 14-point home loss to Wright State, the Youngstown State Penguins flipped the script in the Nutter Center and waddled their way to a 72-52 win over the Raiders. In their Dec. 29 game, the Raiders led 17-10 after one and 37-18 at halftime before surviving a late Penguins run.

On Wednesday, Youngstown State jumped out to an 8-0 lead en route to a 26-15 first-quarter margin. The Penguins outscored the cold-shooting Raiders 19-8 in the second to lead 45-23 at halftime and WSU could never get the deficit to single digits, shooting 28.8 percent for the game and 12.5 percent from three-point range.

“It’s frustrating because that slow start … we have climbed our way out of that every single time we have gotten in it,” Coach Kari Hoffman said. “And it felt like we could not climb ourselves out of it (tonight). We couldn’t make the shot that got ourselves there. We didn’t have an answer.”

Ironically, the most frustrating part wasn’t the shots that weren’t falling for WSU. It was the shots that kept going in for YSU.

“It was giving up 26 in the first quarter, 19 in the second quarter, 45 for the half,” Hoffman said. “(Then) you’re living and dying on every shot at that point so that’s kind of how we felt.”

Combine that with the shooting percentage and shot selection and it made for a forgettable Valentine’s Day.

“Ice cold,” Hoffman said. “We took some really bad (shots). We didn’t take the ones we normally do.”

The Raiders did make one run, cutting the score to 59-45 early in the fourth after a three pointer by Kacee Baumhower (15 points). But the Penguins answered with a three pointer by Mady Aulbach, a layup from Abby Liber, and a jumper from Haley Thierry — daughter of former Chicago Bear and Cleveland Brown John Thierry and twin sister of Ohio State standout Taylor Thierry — to increase the lead to 66-45 with 8:17 left.

Wright State (15-12, 9-7 Horizon League) was able to cut the lead to 18 after another three from Baumhower and two free throws from Jada Tate, but Aulbach drained another three pointer to increase the lead to 71-50 with 5:55 left and WSU could get no closer than 20.

“When we did have a little bit of a push, Youngstown always had an answer,” Hoffman said. “They always had a dagger. We come down and drill a three, they go down make one pass and drill a three. It’s frustrating.”

It was the umpteenth time a slow start doomed the Raiders, who are still looking for reasons why.

“Got to be more focused and sharp to start the game,” Hoffman said. “I don’t know how many times we need to get kicked in the rear end in the first quarter to believe that, or to fix it, or to find a way. We will find a way. It will happen. And I think how we start a game is a bit of evident of our preparation and focus. That probably needs to be changed up a little bit.”

Layne Ferrell added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Raiders. Malia Magestro scored 14 for the Penguins (12-14, 8-8), while Emily Saunders and Dena Jarrells each had 13. Thierry finished with 10.

The Raiders host Northern Kentucky at 4 p.m. Saturday. WSU beat NKU 90-83 on Jan. 20.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.