For the first time since Horizon League play began, Wright State is not in first place.
Milwaukee, which came into the Nutter Center with the worst 3-point percentage in the league, hit 10 of its first 14 treys on the way to a 74-73 victory Saturday night.
And while WSU was slipping to 19-8 overall and 11-3 in the HL, Northern Kentucky was beating visiting Green Bay 86-80 to take over sole possession of first place.
The Panthers led the Raiders by double digits for most of the second half before a furious WSU rally shrunk the deficit from 17 with 5:33 to go to a single point with 11 seconds remaining.
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Then Milwaukee’s Brock Stull missed two free throws to give the Raiders a chance to rush up the court for a game-winning shot, but Grant Benzinger’s 3-pointer at the buzzer missed the mark.
“A loss is a loss, but sometimes it’s even harder to take when you have that last shot,” WSU coach Scott Nagy said. “It was unbelievable that we had a shot there at the end to win it.”
The win capped a season sweep for the Panthers, who also beat the Raiders 66-61 three weeks ago in a defensive battle in Milwaukee. But this time it was their offense that did the damage as they made 12 3-pointers and shot 59 percent.
“They shot the heck out of it,” Nagy said. ” Some was them, and some was us. Early we weren’t very sharp defensively. But I’m proud of the kids that they didn’t quit.”
Freshman center Loudon Love scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds to lead WSU, and junior guard Mark Hughes tied his career high with 19 points. Benzinger finished with 14, including the 3-pointer that got the team within a point in the closing seconds.
But the Raiders couldn’t do much to slow the Panthers (14-14, 7-8) at the other end of the floor.
Milwaukee junior guards Jeremiah Bell (18 points) and Stull (16) combined to make 9 of 16 3-pointers, while freshman guard Carson Warren-Newsome (11) and senior forward Brett Prahl (10) also scored in double figures.
WSU will have a chance to move back into first place when it returns to action Friday night at home against NKU.
The Raiders beat the Norse 84-81 on Jan. 11, which means they still control their own fate.
“I’m less worried about that and more just about moving them on from a tough loss,” Nagy said. “There’s plenty of time to talk about that. The margin for error obviously is a lot less. You almost have to be perfect now. But you can’t be perfect unless you get over this and don’t have a hangover from this.”