Men’s Basketball: Lee scores 25 to lead Vikings over Raiders
Wright State coach Billy Donlon debated calling timeout after Charlie Lee hit three free throws to give Cleveland State a one-point lead. It is a decision Donlon and the Raiders will have eight days to contemplate.
In a game that featured 13 second-half lead changes, Donlon’s Raiders lost 72-68 Saturday before a national-television audience to Cleveland State, who swept a four-game road trip.
With WSU leading 67-65, Lee attempted a long 3-pointer that missed badly. As he was going up, WSU forward Jerran Young clipped Lee in the arm allowing Lee to drain three free throws with 16 seconds left.
Lee has made all 37 free throws he has attempted in the final five minutes of games this year.
“It’s a very smart play by Charlie to shoot that ball then,” Donlon said. “Because you’re down two and you’re going to try to take the first look you can. Because if you miss, you want to have more time to prolong the game.”
On WSU’s ensuing drive, JT Yoho attempted a fade-away jumper that came well short with seven seconds remaining.
Donlon thought about issuing his remaining timeout before Yoho’s attempt but opted to let his press-break offense go to work.
“If they didn’t press, I would call one,” Donlon said. “I wanted to attack the press. We just had two dunks when he pressed us. I didn’t want to call the timeout on the press. I have great faith in the guys in the locker room to make the play.”
Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters thought Donlon would call a timeout in that instance.
“But I thought it could go either way,” Waters said. “When you call a timeout, you give the other coach a chance to figure something out as well.”
Cleveland State had to sustain an 11-0 run which gave the Raiders a two-point lead on a highlight dunk from Young that lifted the crowd of 4,981 to its feet.
“I thought our guys really dug deep,” Waters said. “And they have done that the last two games.”
Donlon said he was proud of his team for overcoming three deficits of nine or larger.
“It is a hard loss, they scored on their last seven of eight possessions,” Donlon said. “We were a stop away. They were 15 of 15 from the foul line (late in the second). They just willed their way to win.”
Lee led all scorers with 25 points; 17 of which came in the final 7:21 of the contest. His 25-point performance came less than 48 hours after he scored 31 versus Oakland on Thursday.
“He has been phenomenal over the last two games,” Waters said. “It has always been in him, but he has always been a distributor and he gets everybody else going. And this year, we are more of an offensive team.”
Young who scored 15 and had a few highlight dunks led Wright State. Yoho had 14 but shot a dismal 1-of-8 from the 3-point line. Cole Darling and Miles Dixon scored 12 and 10 respectively.
Darling has scored in double figures in both games he has played since returning from an injury.
“The last five minutes, we didn’t get the stops we needed,” Darling said. “Charlie Lee stepped up big and hit some big shots late. Got a big foul late. Nothing we could do about that, we just have to make those stops next game.”
Wright State rallied from an early 16-3 deficit with a pair of runs to climb back in the game. An 11-2 and an 11-0 run helped WSU to a 31-29 halftime advantage as the Raiders drained six 3-pointers.
WSU (14-13, 6-6) started the second half 2-of-11 from the field allowing Cleveland State (17-9, 8-3) to open a 47-38 lead nine minutes into the second. Wright State went to work by going on its second 11-0 run of the contest to reclaim the lead.
The Raiders get their longest break of the season between now and next Sunday before travelling to Oakland.