Raiders clinch #3 seed in HL tourney with dominant win over YSU
The men’s basketball team closed out the regular season on a high note, trouncing the Youngstown State Penguins 72-45 and securing the number three seed in the Horizon League Tournament.
The victory, coupled with Valparaiso’s victory over Green Bay, gave Wright State the important third seed. The Raiders will now get a first round bye in this week’s tournament.
Wright State (19-11, 10-6) roared out to a big lead on the Penguins early and never looked back. The Raiders led at the half 39-19, and the second half proved to be more of the same. The Penguins were without their best player, Kendrick Perry, and would get no closer than 19 points in the final 20 minutes.
The Raiders played aggressive on defense, and it showed both on the court and the box score as WSU racked up 12 steals in the first half alone. Junior Matt Vest attributed the effort to a total team focus and confidence the Raiders are playing with heading into the tournament.
“I think we all felt good coming into the game,” Vest said. “Our energy was great defensively and that’s how we win. We kinda lost sight of that the last couple games, but that’s really been our identity all year as a team.”
WSU dominated in other statistical categories including points in the paint (42-14), points off turnovers (19-3), second chance points (12-0) and bench scoring (33-13.)
On the scoreboard, the Raiders were paced by Jerran Young and Vest, who scored 14 and 11 points respectively. Junior AJ Pacher also contributed early, scoring nine points while pulling down seven rebounds. WSU head coach Billy Donlon said Pacher was the game’s most dominant player, and Vest called the game an “unbelievable team win.”
“It’s definitely something we needing to get us feeling good going into the tournament,” Vest said.
The entire bench emptied late in the second half as fans saw sparingly used players like Jacoby Roddy and Daniel Collie not only play, but score in the game’s late moments. Roddy scored six points while Collie put away the game’s final shot.
Both Vest and Donlon, the Horizon League Coach of the Year, believe this team is capable of winning the Horizon League Tournament and getting an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
“Those kids in that locker room, the depth in that locker room, there’s no hesitation in my mind that we can win,” Donlon said. “Will it be challenging? Will it be hard? Yeah. But if it were easy everybody would do it.”
WSU plays the winner of the Youngstown State- Loyola game at 6:00 p.m. this Friday night at Valparaiso. If the Raiders win, they’ll take on the Detroit Titans Saturday at 6:00 p.m.