DAYTON – In the end, down by 15 points, Green Bay stopped playing traditional defense and just trapped on almost every possession.
The defensive gamble got them close but when the dust settled Wright State won their fourth game in a row beating Green Bay 71-67.
At the 7:45 mark Wright State (13-6, 6-4 HL) went up 59-44 on a 3-pointer by Cooper Land.
Then Green Bay’s Rahmon Fletcher went to work. In the next 70 seconds he made two layups and a 3-pointer to make it a 59-51 game.
A free throw by Wright State’s Vaughn Duggins and two free throws by N’gai Evans got the Raiders lead back up to 11 points at 62-51 the 5:23 mark.
From that point on it was “hold on Sally” for the Raiders.
Green Bay (11-9, 5-5 HL) got it down to five points three different times, each time the Raiders fought to get their lead back up and two seconds before the buzzer Green Bay’s Terry Evans tipped the ball in to close out the game at 71-67.
“They just trapped every other procession. They scraped well and to their credit they played well,” said a relieved Wright State coach Brad Brownell.
Wright State really wanted to put the Phoenix away and get a rare double-digit win tonight, but it ended up the usual close game the Raiders have played all year.
“We wanted to put it on them and they answer each time,” explained Vaughn Duggins.
In the first half the Raiders came out on fire hitting three 3-pointers to start the game off as they jumped to a 9-3 lead.
At the 14:11 mark Green Bay’s Terry Evans put in a layup to briefly give the Phoenix the lead 15-14.
The lead went back and forth with Green Bay getting no more than a two point lead until with 1:58 left, Land hit a layup to put Wright State up by five at 33-28.
Green Bay’s Evan’s made a layup with 58 seconds left to cut it to three points but he turned around and fouled Land who made both foul shots to put the Raiders up 35-30 at the half.
“I think more than anything what hurt us the most was our turnover. We had 16 on the road,” said Green Bay coach Ted Kowalczyk. “Give them credit I think Wright State played very well. We’re not getting production from our bench and they did.”
Wright State’s bench scored 18 points to just eight for the Phoenix bench.
Green Bay’s Fletcher led all scorers with 18 points while Evans and Mike Schachtner each put in 16 points for the Phoenix.
Duggins led the Raiders with 12 points and also of note; Evans scored 11 points in just 12 minutes.
-During the game after a controversial call that had the home team fans all worked up, Dayton Daily News writer Marc Katz leaned over to Horizon League official’s observer Jim Van De Grift and said, “Are you writing this down.” Van De Grift said, “I didn’t see a thing.” For the record Vand De Grift is a former official.
-Kowalczyk said of the Horizon League, “It is one heck of a good league. It is my sixth year in the league and it is by far, by far, the best it has been.”
-Duggins agreed with Kowalczyk saying, “Top to bottom in our league there are not many gaps between the teams.”
-Duggins was sporting a new close-cropped haircut tonight. He said that he and Troy Tabler went to JD’s barbershop. JD is short for injured Raider John David Gardner. Duggins had two stripes cut into the side and he said that was to remember JD until he comes back from his injury.
-Green Bay leads the all-time series 18-20.
-Green Bay’s next game is at Detroit on Saturday at 3:05 p.m.
-Wright State’s next game is on Saturday against Milwaukee at 7 p.m.