- By Jay Morrison Staff Writer
Grant Benzinger’s mastery of the Detroit Titans continued Friday night as the Wright State senior guard led five players in double figures with 17 points to help the Raiders bounce back from their first Horizon League loss of the season.
WSU raced out to an early 18-point lead and coasted to an 87-55 triumph before a crowd of 7,453, the largest Nutter Center crowd in nearly two years.
“Sometimes when a game starts like that, when you just have such good flow, you think it’s going to go that way the whole game and it doesn’t,” WSU coach Scott Nagy said. “We had a seven-minute period there where we had a little bit of a letdown, but I thought our kids did a great job of staying focused all night.”
The victory moves the Raiders (16-6, 8-1 HL) into sole possession of first place in the conference after Northern Kentucky (7-2) fell 83-70 at home against Oakland (6-3) Friday night.
Benzinger hit his first four 3-pointers on the way to scoring all 17 of his points in the first half in a near repeat of his Jan. 5 performance at Detroit, when he registered 18 of his game-high 23 in the first half.
And as was the case in that contest, Benzinger was content to absorb the focus of the Titans defense in the second half, going 0 for 2 while his teammates did most of the scoring.
“(Detroit coach Bacari) Alexander told (Josh McFolley) ‘no touches,’ so when we got the ball he was in my shorts basically,” Benzinger said. “And that’s fine. I don’t care about the scoring. Other guys can do it. We have plenty of good players to put the ball in the hole.”
Loudon Love (15 points), Everett Winchester (13), Gentry (12) and Jaylon Hall (10) finished in double figures. Parker Ernsthausen just missed with nine.
“We had great balance tonight in terms of minutes and rebounds and points,” Nagy said. “It’s amazing how balanced we were. Our other guys are playing well offensively and we’re starting to shoot the ball a little better, so they can’t just focus on him.”
Benzinger, who was 6 of 10 from the floor, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, has averaged 20.7 points in his last three games against the Titans (6-16, 2-7).
“Maybe it’s the way they guard me,” he said after moving past Andy Warner for 16th place on the WSU scoring list with 1,276 points. “They do play an up and down game, and that allows people to get open shots. Our whole team shot well.”
Wright State made 68 percent (17 of 25) of its shots in the second half and 56.1 percent (32 of 57) for the game. The Raiders went up by as many as 35 in the second half, the team’s biggest lead against a league opponent this season.
The frustration from the blowout boiled over with 5:27 remaining when McFolley shoved Ernsthausen to the ground in retaliation after a foul, resulting in his ejection.
“I wasn’t trying to make a statement or anything,” Ernsthausen said. “He kept playing after the whistle and he kind of went into me, so I blocked him and he fell down. As I was walking away I kind of saw him out of the corner of my eye and he shoved me. Obviously I flopped a little bit. Honestly that was to protect myself because I wasn’t sure if a right hook was coming and I was getting out of the way of that.”