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Wright State beats North Florida for three straight wins in home event

Wright State coach Scott Nagy wants to temper expectations after sweeping three games against quality foes in the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic — especially with what’s looming over the next six weeks.

But the Raiders improved to 6-1 after a 75-67 victory over North Florida before 2,975 fans Sunday. It’s their best seven-game start since also going 6-1 in 2000-2001.

“It hasn’t been perfect. Every game has felt like a struggle. … But still, we’re beating good teams. Every team that’s here is going to win 20 games and all have a chance to win their leagues,” Nagy said.

“This was a really good tournament. Most people don’t understand that because (those schools) don’t necessarily have the name recognition, but they’re really good wins for us. We’re happy to be 6-1. But I don’t think anyone in (the locker room) thinks we’re playing unbelievable.”

Although a team title wasn’t awarded, the Raiders also knocked off CSU Bakersfield and North Dakota to go 3-0. All three opponents made postseason tournaments last year.

North Florida (3-5) cut an 11-point deficit to two with 12:25 to go, but Wright State surged to a 63-53 lead with five minutes to go with the help of four Grant Benzinger 3-pointers.

He finished with 21 points and was named the MVP of the event. Making the all-tourney team were Wright State’s Steven Davis and Mark Alstork, North Florida’s Dallas Moore, CSU Bakersfield’s Damiyne Durham and North Dakota’s Quinton Hooker.

“We feel like defensively, we’re more in tune now,” said Davis, who had 16 points. “We’re trying to get stops. We’re trying to limit guys on offensive rebounds and not give up second-chance buckets. Defensively, we’re more active. That’s our talking point.”

Five things we learned:

Packing their bags: After playing six of their first seven games at home, the Raiders will play seven of their next eight on the road, starting Wednesday at Georgia State.

They host Urbana on Dec. 13 and don’t play another home game until Jan. 5.

“Average teams can win at home. Great teams can win on the road. It’ll be a good test for us,” Nagy said.

Event may return: The Raiders were hosting a home tourney for the first time since the 1990s, and Nagy said the school has had discussions about staging another one next season.

“It’s just nice to get three home games. … Getting to have them early gives a team confidence,” he said.

Early swings: North Florida put together a 19-5 run and took a 19-11 edge on Moore’s 3-pointer with 11 minutes to go in the first half. But Wright State regained the lead at 22-21 on a transition basket by Davis. Back-to-back 3’s by Mike LaTulip gave the Raiders a 37-27 advantage with one minute left in the first half.

Getting to the line: Alstork led the nation going into Saturday’s games in made free throws with 49 in 59 attempts. He probably didn’t relinquish that lead after going 10-for-11 against North Dakota on Saturday and 2-for-3 against North Florida.

He’s 61-for-73 for the season (83.6 percent).

Cold spells: The Raiders had a 10-minute scoreless drought against CSU Bakersfield and went five minutes without a point in the second half against North Florida.

“I said this coming into the year: I didn’t know how good we would be offensively. We still have tremendous lulls. I don’t really have an explanation for it except that we’re not very deep, and there’s times when we get tired. That’s when it happens to us,” Nagy said.

“Maybe I have to do a better job with our timeouts, spacing them out better. That’s probably where I can help the team.”

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