DAYTON, Ohio – Wright State shot 75 percent from the floor in the second half to hold off any hopes of a comeback by the Milwaukee men’s basketball team, claiming a 92-81 victory Friday at the Nutter Center.
The Panthers (7-9, 6-8 Horizon League) scored 53 second-half points against the second-place Raiders (16-4, 14-3 Horizon League), but could get no closer than eight points down the stretch when WSU kept up the impressive shooting (18-of-24 FG) after the break. A key WSU scoring run (15-2) to close the first half provided the difference on the day.
“The last four minutes of the first half, they finished on a run that pushed out the lead and I thought that was the key to the game,” head coach Pat Baldwin said. “Defensively, we missed some assignments and they got some open looks. In the second half, they just picked us apart in the paint. They had 38 points in the paint; that is just way too many to give up.”
DeAndre Gholston paced the offense with a career-high performance, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including a 5-of-8 effort on three-pointers. He added eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals to finish with his fifth outing of 20-plus points on the season, topping his former high of 24.
“I was proud of our guys and their fight,” Baldwin said. “Dre (Gholston) really had a great game for us and was trying to keep us in it. We would get it [the deficit] to 10, 9, 8 points and just couldn’t get over that hump.”
Courtney Brown Jr. also posted a career-high, netting 14 points to top his prior career-best of 12. Josh Thomas joined them in double-figures with 13.
Loudon Love paced WSU with a near double-double of 21 points and nine rebounds, one of five players in double-figures for the home squad, which came into the night leading the league in scoring at 81.6 ppg.
Down 14 at the break, Milwaukee picked up the offense in the second half despite Te’Jon Lucas being forced to the bench after picking up a fourth personal foul with over 16 minutes left in the contest.
A Raider three extended the lead to 50-37, forcing a Milwaukee timeout. A three-pointer from Tafari Simms had MKE back within nine at 60-51, only to see another WSU surge grow the advantage back to 68-53.
Brown Jr.’s four-point play made it 80-72 with 4:11 to play, but that was as close as it would get despite the Panthers shooting 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the field themselves in the second half.
Milwaukee put up a solid first half until the 6:28 mark, watching the Raiders score 15 of the final 17 points of the period to lead, 42-28 at intermission.
The defense was very strong early, forcing misses on nine of the first 12 WSU shots of the night, seeing a Gholston reverse layup bump MKE ahead, 10-7.
Wright State responded with seven unanswered, and the Panthers were down, 19-13, after the Raider run hit 12-3. Milwaukee had an answer, however, seeing a Thomas layup get the team back within one at 19-18 and eight straight putting them back ahead at 21-19 on a Gholston three-pointer.
From there, that 15-2 run finishing off the period stood up over the final 20 minutes of action.
These two teams wrap up the series Saturday, set for a 2 p.m. CST tip.
COURTESY MILWAUKEE PANTHERS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS