Wright State coach Scott Nagy always wants his team to be selective on 3-pointers. But with star center Loudon Love limited by a sprained ankle, the Raiders were often forced to play against UIC without a post presence and had little choice but to hoist shots from outside.
They uncorked an astounding 40 three-pointers in a 75-72 overtime loss before 3,506 fans at the Nutter Center on Friday, connecting on a mere 11.
»PREVIEW: IUPUI at Wright State
The Flames weren’t much better, going 13-for-30, but they made the one that mattered most: a game-winning 3 by freshman forward Travell Washington over the outstretched arm of 6-foot-11 Parker Ernsthausen at the buzzer.
“The miracle is going 11-for-40 from 3 and we still get the game into overtime and lose on a last-second shot. It tells you how hard our guys are playing. When you shoot as poorly as we did tonight, usually you get crushed on the glass. We didn’t,” said Nagy whose team won the rebounding battle, 48-42.
“I’m sure I’ve not had a team shoot 40 threes — ever. But they were good shots.”
Cole Gentry scored eight of his game-high 24 points in the OT for the Raiders, who are 6-8 overall, 0-1 in the Horizon League and 0-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer.
He hit a top-of-the-key trey to tie the game at 72 with 7.7 seconds left. After a timeout, the Raiders went to a zone and seemed to get the ball stopped away from the basket, but Tarkus Ferguson found Washington with a quick pass to the corner.
Mark Hughes and Alan Vest had 11 points each, while Love, who was sidelined for 10 days, had nine points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench before fouling out.
UIC (7-7, 1-0) was led by a pair of athletic guards in Marcus Ottey (23 points) and Ferguson (18).
The Raiders, who started 3-for-20 on 3’s, also switched to a zone on the last possession of a tie game with Miami, which hit a deep 3-pointer for the win.
“I think it was the right call — because there was no way we were going to handle Ferguson one-on-one (dribbling) downhill,” Nagy said. “We got him in the middle of the floor and got him trapped. And he just made a good pass to the corner. Parker got out there, but the kid made a good shot.”
Mixing it up: Love got into a fracas with UIC’s Jordan Blount during a rebound tussle with 11:23 left in the game. Both players hit the deck, and Love stood up and pointed at Blount while barking his way, getting slapped with a technical.
After looking at the replay monitor, the refs also tagged Blount with a technical.
Since both players were T’d up, the Flames weren’t awarded any free throws. Three UIC players, including standout guard Godwin Boahen, also were ejected for leaving the bench.
Fourth-year UIC coach Steve McClain was irate, ripping off his jacket and stomping toward the refs. After the game, he stared down a league official at press row while walking to the locker room.
Protecting the ball: The Raiders had zero turnovers through the first 18 minutes, committing their first one when Gentry sailed a post feed out of bounds. They finished with just nine.
They’ve been a low-turnover team all year with an average of 11.8 per game, the second-best figure in the league.
Foot joy: Nagy and his staff were nattily attired in their suits and ties, but they were all barefoot to raise awareness for the international ministry Samaritan’s Feet.
Coming up: The Raiders host IUPUI at 3 p.m. Sunday and then don’t play at home again until Milwaukee visits Jan. 24. They’ll play five straight road games in that span.