Special season comes to an end

DALLAS, Texas — Picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League pre-season poll, the Wright State men’s basketball team proved many outsiders wrong by advancing to the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The magical season ended March 15 with a 73-47 loss to the University of Tennessee.

The inability to score for stretches of time was a problem for the Raiders periodically throughout the season. The problem re-surfaced against the Volunteers, as Wright State shot 32% (19-60) from the field and a staggering 19% (4-21) from beyond the arc. The 47 points scored marked the lowest output in head coach Scott Nagy’s first two seasons at the helm.

“You just can’t play as poorly as we did offensively and win an NCAA game, not against a team like Tennessee,” said Nagy after the game. “We’ve been in some games like this where we’ve played this poor offensively and won, but when you play Tennessee that just isn’t going to happen.”

An Everett Winchester lay-up at 13:33 in the first half closed the margin to five, 13-8. The Raiders went scoreless the next five-plus minutes and the Volunteers extended their lead to 21-8. Wright State would get no closer than seven points the remainder of the game.

Horizon League first-team selection Grant Benzinger suffered the same shooting woes as many of his teammates. Benzinger concluded his career with over 1,400 points, but was only able to convert on two of 16 shots against Tennessee.

“You’re going to have games like that,” Nagy said. “Grant has had people sticking to him all year, so I don’t think that was any different. I don’t know what to tell you. He just had a tough game offensively.”

Wright State was led by league Freshman of the Year Loudon Love, who finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Love spent 10 minutes of the first half on the bench in foul trouble. Fellow freshman Winchester finished with 11 points on 5-8 shooting. He and Love were the only two Raiders to shoot greater than 50% from the field.

Meanwhile, Tennessee, the regular season SEC co-champion and tournament runner-up, was led by 2nd team all-conference performer Admiral Schofield with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Lamonte Turner finished with 19 points and SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams had 14 points. The 26-8 Volunteers will face Loyola-Chicago on Saturday.

The Raiders concluded their record-setting season at 25-10. Nagy believes the disappointment felt now by the players will subside with time. “Doesn’t matter what you say to try and make them feel better. I think as time goes on they’ll be able to look back and see what a special season this was.”