Raiders break losing streak in big way over Panthers

Justin Boggs, Sports Writer

Wright State forward AJ Pacher was in tears after Sunday’s loss at Miami. On Thursday, he left the Nutter Center with a smile.

Despite no one from WSU scoring in double figures, the Raiders put together a great defensive effort in a 70-43 win over Eastern Illinois.

“Overall, I think we took care of the ball,” Pacher said. “We forced them into 21 turnovers which is great. That is Wright State defense for you. And coach emphasizes taking care of the ball and we did a good job tonight.”

The victory broke a four-game losing streak following the Raiders’ four-game road trip. WSU remains perfect (5-0) at home.

“I don’t think I have been part of a game where you score 70 and no body gets double figures,” WSU head coach Billy Donlon said. “That just shows the togetherness of the team and they did an outstanding job.”

Point guard Reggie Arceneaux was tasked with shutting down leading Panther scorer Reggie Smith. Arceneaux was up for the challenge as Smith only scored five to go with six turnovers.

Arceneaux was solid offensively as well scoring eight along with three assists and no turnovers. Arceneaux got an assist on an impressive alley-oop from a baseline inbounds to Jerran Young who finished from above the rim.

“He was really dialed in and he took the challenge of guarding a good player,” Donlon said. “Smith is a good player, he had 14 a game against on other good people.”

Despite the start of the season not going the way many expected the Raiders have, Wright State on Thursday put together the kind of dominating performance that was expected heading into conference play in two weeks. The 43 points allowed by the Raiders’ defense was the fewest all year to a Division I opponent.

Turnover margin keyed the Raiders’ victory. Wright State forced 21 turnovers on defense and gave up 12 turnovers on offense.

“Overall, I think we took care of the ball,” Pacher said. “We forced them into 21 turnovers which is great. That is Wright State defense for you. And coach emphasizes taking care of the ball and we did a good job tonight.”

After trailing 21-19 with 6:44 left in the first half, the Raiders went on a 12-2 run to lead 31-23 at halftime. WSU did not allow Eastern Illinois to score for a six-minute span late in the half.

“That was a big swing for us,” WSU guard Matt Vest said. “We really started guarding and that is kind of our pulse all year. If we guard, we’re playing well and winning and if we don’t we get beat. Our defense was incredible.”

The Raiders took advantage of 13 personal fouls in the first half committed by Eastern Illinois by shooting 9-of-9 from the free throw line.

WSU stretched the lead in the second half especially during a 13-0 run in the middle of the half to have the game in firm control. Eastern Illinois did not make a field goal for a nine minutes stretch in the second half.

“We were locked in defensively all night,” Donlon said. “They took a long time to score, to get a shot. Our offensive pace of play will look slower because it took Eastern Illinois a long time to get a shot.”

WSU’s four-game home stand continues Saturday as the Raiders host UMKC the game is part of a basketball triple-header in the Nutter Center following the women’s basketball Wright State Invitational.

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