Wright State put itself in position to end its losing skid with a strong second-half surge, but Kent State scored on its final 10 possessions to pull out an 83-76 home win Saturday.
The Raiders took a 71-66 lead on two free throws by Mark Hughes with 4:24 to go, but the Golden Flashes, led by All-Mid-American Conference guard Jaylin Walker (25 points), had their offense in high gear at that stage and pulled away for their eighth win in nine games.
Wright State (4-6) has lost five of its last six games, including five straight to Division-I foes.
“The last three games, we’ve had the lead in the second half, and we’ve not won any of them,” coach Scott Nagy said on his post-game radio show. “As I look at it, we may need to make more changes, call more timeouts. We’re probably starting to wear down a little bit. We’re playing so many people so many minutes. But clearly, we’re establishing a pattern.
“Our kids did a great job getting back in the game. At the start of the second half, we were really ready and fought. But when it gets close, you have to make the plays, and we haven’t made them.”
Nagy made a switch in the starting lineup, putting 6-foot-3 senior Alan Vest in for the 6-11 Parker Ernsthausen. It was Vest’s first start in 66 career games, and it paid off. He scored a career-high 16 points, making 4-of-6 three-pointers.
Cole Gentry had 19 points to lead the Raiders, who trailed 39-34 at halftime.
Loudon Love, who had 14 points and seven rebounds, made a bucket to give Wright State a 74-73 edge at 2:33, but Antonio Williams scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Kent State grabbed the rebound, and C.J. Williamson made a jumper for a 77-74 lead with 1:49 to go.
The Raiders had two 3-point attempts on their next possession but couldn’t convert, and the Flashes scored with 23 seconds left to seal it.
They out-scored the Raiders, 22-10, over the final 5:28.
“When I hear we gave up the last (10) scores, we’ve got to do a better job than that,” Nagy said. “That’s the coaching staff’s fault, not the players’. At some point, WE need to make some adjustments, and we didn’t.”