Wright State coach Scott Nagy knows he has a gaping hole in his roster without a true point guard, and that won’t be fixed until sophomore transfer Cole Gentry becomes eligible Dec. 19.
Until then, the Raiders will have a hard time avoiding high-turnover, low-assist games like they had in an 80-61 defeat in their home opener to Murray State before 4,009 fans Saturday night.
They’ve lost three straight games to start the season for the first time since dropping six in a row in 2008-09.
“It’s hard to play basketball when you don’t have guys who can really dribble. That’s where we are right now,” Nagy said.
The Raiders had 16 turnovers and a meager seven assists. They were playing without starting point guard Justin Mitchell, who was suspended for one game.
They had a combined 37 turnovers and 28 assists in the first two games.
“There isn’t much we can do about it now,” Nagy said. “Obviously, it would have helped to have Justin. But once we have Cole, all of that will change. We’ll really have someone who can handle pressure and break down the (defense) and get guys easy shots.”
Freshman center Louden Love had 14 points and senior wing Grant Benzinger 13.
Here are five things to know about the game:
The Raiders cut a 10-point deficit to 50-47 with 10:34 left, but the Racers (2-1) pulled away after that. Leading by seven with 4:29 to go, they went on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes, getting two 3-pointers from Jonathan Stark, the Ohio Valley Conference preseason player of the year.
They finished the game on 15-2 run.
“Their upperclassmen stepped up, and ours didn’t,” Benzinger said.
He added: “If we can cut our turnovers down, it takes away five possessions for them and five easy layups, and it’s a whole new ball game. We’re careless, and it’s got to stop.”
The Racers made 18-of-27 field goals in the second half and shot 53.3 percent overall. The Raiders shot 38.90.
When the teams met last year, Wright State prevailed, 77-62, on the road.
“This year, we just don’t have enough offense to carry us,” Nagy said. “You have to give them credit. They have dang-good basketball players, and they hit some tough shots late.”
Scoring help needed
Junior wing Mark Hughes, who went into the game as the Raiders leading scorer with a 14.5 average, went scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points.
“The difference in the game is they just have experienced players who are willing to take big shots and make big plays. And we just don’t have (that),” Nagy said.
Parker Ernsthausen was decked by an inadvertent elbow from Murray State’s Jalen Dupree early in the second half. The officials called it a Flagrant 1 foul.
The junior center made one of two foul shots, and the Raiders were awarded the ball. But they failed to cash in on a chance to build momentum because of a turnover.
Jaylon Hall, a 6-5 freshman from Houston, saw his first action of the season after dealing with some minor injuries, and he scored for the first time on a 3-pointer with 8:45 left in the first half. He finished with four points.
“I think of all our players, he’s the one who’s going to make the biggest jump. From where he is now to where he’ll be at the end of the season, he’s going to make a bigger jump than anybody,” Nagy said.