DAYTON – Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Although being good or at least playing good helps..
Tonight Wright State received some good news about 45 minutes before the start of the game when they found out that Marist’s leading scorer and resident stud Jared Jordan, had a bad high ankle sprain and would not be dressing for the game. He was leading the country in assists (8.5) and averaging 20.3 points per game.
In addition to the lucky-good news Wright State played great defense forcing 21 turnovers, as they held Marist (8-3) to just 38.8 percent shooting to beat the Red Foxes 63-53 at home.
Wright State took the lead for good at 16:44 mark in the first half on a 3-pointer from DeShaun Wood when the Raiders pulled ahead 5-3.
By playing tough defense and hitting six of 12 3-point shots Wright State (4-5) held a 28-16 lead at the half. Marist didn’t even get into double digits until the 7:15 mark when James Smith hit the only 3-pointer the Red Foxes would hit in the first half to make it 18-10 Wright State.
Wood acknowledged that getting an early lead on Marist built the Raiders confidence.
“Once we got up early, we had a lot of energy, it built everybody’s confidence and we just rolled with it,“ explained Wood.
In the second half whenever Marist would make a run, the Raiders would respond. The Red Foxes briefly got the deficit under five with exactly six minutes remaining in the game when Benjamin Wilfred hit two free throws to cut the deficit to four at 41-37.
Then DeShaun Wood took over at the 5:43 mark as he was fouled when he drove to the basket by Wilfred. He made both shots. It took only 21 more seconds for Wood to get fouled again, this time by Gerald Carter. Again he made both shots to put the Raiders up 45-37.
Less than a minute later Wood stole the ball drove toward the basket, got fouled in the lane, made the shot and made the foul shot to put the Raiders up by 10 points at 48-41,
Marist cut the lead to five, three different times in the last four minutes but the Raiders kept fighting back, making eight of their last nine foul shots to
seal the upset.
Marist Coach Matt Brady, thought that his team’s turnovers and Wright State’s foul shooting were the difference in this game.
“I thought Wright State shot exceptionally well at the foul line, we didn’t. We turned it and had just way too many turnovers,” said Brady.
The bigger Red Foxes out rebounded Wright State 40-30, they also got the ball down low to score 26 points in the paint compared to just 14 for the Raiders.
“They really tried to pound it inside and with a small lineup like we have, I think our guys did a really good job of fighting, competing and making it as difficult as possible. But still the Stilphen kid hurt us but we did a good job on some of the other kids,” explained a tired Wright State Coach Brad Brownell.
Good defense kept both teams under 40 percent shooting percentage as Marist shot 38.8 percent (19-49), while Wright State managed to shoot just 36.5 percent (19-52).
The Red Foxes’ Ryan Stilphen led all scorers with 20 points and Will Whittington chipped in 10 points.,
Wood led the Raiders with 17 points, Vaughn Duggins had 16 points and Todd Brown scored 11 points.
*Former Raider Coach John Ross was in attendance at tonight’s game. He was the very first basketball coach at Wright State. He founded the program in 1970.
*Wright State leads the series 1-0.
*Wright State’s next game is at home Thursday against Chicago State at 7 p.m.
*The next game for Marist is Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Northern Illinois