Men’s basketball 5-3 to start season, prepares for VMI on Saturday
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It was a Jekyll and Hyde pair of games for the WSU men’s basketball team this past week.
The Raiders defeated Morehead State at home on Saturday and then fell on the road to Bowling Green Monday.
Junior Cole Darling had a banner night against Morehead State Saturday, scoring a career-high 29 points on 10-13 shooting.
“As soon as I hit those first couple shots, I felt comfortable,” Darling said. “It was just one of those games.”
The Raiders trailed only once the entire game after Morehead State took a 4-2 lead at the 18:25 mark. But WSU quickly reclaimed the lead on Darling’s first of three three-pointers of the day and never looked back.
Darling called the performance his best game as a Raider.
WSU head coach Billy Donlon credited the defensive work of Matt Vest and Kendall Griffin on Morehead State’s Milton Chavis. Chavis, who averaged 18 points a game heading into Saturday, was held to four points on three field goal attempts.
Donlon switched his starting lineup, notably benching starting point guard Reggie Arceneaux for freshman Joe Bramanti.
“Offensively, we’ve been awful,” Donlon said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we were running offense. I wanted to play the guys that facilitate the ball the best.”
It was a different story Monday night when the Raiders traveled north to play Bowling Green. A sluggish offense mustered only 41 points and didn’t score in the final six minutes of the contest.
“We went back to being our young offensive team that wants to try to score in the first seven seconds of offensive basketball, and you can’t win that way,” Donlon said.
The Raiders shot 15-40 for the game (37.5 percent), and while Bowling Green was limited to 32.7 percent from the field, the game was won at the free throw line where the Falcons went 19-21. WSU attempted six free throws.
“They (Bowling Green) have athletic bigs,” WSU freshmen JT Yoho said. “We didn’t drive the ball a lot, but when we did we went away from them instead of going into them and looking for contact.”
The Falcons grabbed nine more rebounds than the Raiders and dominated the offensive boards, grabbing 12 and scoring 15 second-chance points.
“We had an opportunity to take a big step forward (against Bowling Green),” Donlon said. “Win a home game against a good opponent, come on the road against another good opponent and we just didn’t get it done.”
After going into halftime tied at 22, Bowling Green forward A’uston Calhoun erupted for 17 of his 19 points in the second half to lead all scorers. Calhoun went a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line and grabbed eight rebounds.
“They had more fight than we did,” Donlon said. “Calhoun wanted to win more than the rest of the guys.”
The Raiders have a home matchup on Saturday with VMI . The Keydets are averaging 82.6 points per game and will test for WSU’s defense.
That game, which begins at 7 p.m., will be an ugly sweater-themed game for fans. A contest will pick the person deemed to have the ugliest sweater, and the winner gets a prize pack.