Men’s basketball: Offense humming, defense scuffling

Justin Boggs, Sports Writer

Saturday’s contest was a classic example of what has gone right and what has gone wrong for Wright State early on this season.

The Raiders’ offense pieced together a solid outing but the defense left something to be desired as WSU topped Western Carolina 85-77 in the Nutter Center.

The Raiders improve to 4-0 at home but have a tough stretch ahead as WSU has four road games before returning home on Dec. 19.

AJ Pacher scored 18 and led the Raiders. He was among five Raiders who reached double figures.

Miles Dixon throws down a dunk during Wright State’s 85-77 win over Western Carolina Saturday.

WSU had its second highest scoring output under Billy Donlon. Saturday’s contest was second to the 92 the Raiders scored against VMI last December. The Raiders have scored over 70 eight times this season. WSU had just six 70-point games all of last year.

“We have very good players,” Pacher said. “Every single person on the floor is good whether it is in the post where they can do different things. As long as we play unselfish, you can’t guard five players that are very good for 40 minutes.”

Donlon said this is the best offense he has had as both an assistant and as head coach at WSU.

“Our offense, to do what we’re doing right now, it is the best it has been in eight years,” Donlon said. “We have to keep that moving and get back to 40 minutes of effort defensively.”

But defense was once again suspect, especially in the second half. The Raiders allowed the Catamounts to score 51 points in the second half. The game was called tighter and WCU coach Larry Hunter made adjustments.

The Raiders once had a 15-point lead but that advantage slipped to five near the end of the second half. Free throw shooting saved WSU, as the Raiders scored 24 of their second-half points from the free throw line.

“If we would have kept playing Wright State D through the whole game, I think the score would have been a lot lower,” WSU forward JT Yoho said after scoring 11 points. “Since we got the 10-15 point lead, we thought we had a bigger cushion than what we had and therefore we let up.”

Pacher had six points in the first half. He had a strong run in the second half which allowed him to give WSU a 15 point lead in the middle of the period.

The backcourt duo of Reggie Arceneaux and Kendall Griffin were tasked with shutting down Trey Sumler who was the Southern Conference’s Player of the Week last week. In the first half, they were successful as Sumler only scored two points.

“They all did a good job, our team defense (in the first half) was very good,” Donlon said.

Sumler came alive a bit in the second half scoring 13 points.

Arceneaux led the Raiders with seven assists to go with scoring 12. Saturday was just the second time he reached double figures this season.

“It was good offensively but there is the other end of the floor,” Donlon said about Arceneaux’s performance. “What I love about him is he is not hunting shots when he drives the ball. The biggest area where he has improved is he took five shots in 33 minutes. In other games, he would have shot 15 times. That is where he is evolving as a point guard.”

Pacher gave credit to Arceneaux for finding him allowing him to score buckets.

“I give credit to my teammates,” Pacher said. “Reggie took the ball screen and threw it back to me and I was wide open. That was Reggie doing a good job off the ball screen and throwing it back to me.”

The Raiders have a travel day tomorrow and will take on Morehead State Monday evening.

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