Raiders top NKU, earn ‘threematch’ in tourney


FAIRBORN — Wright State University honored its two superstar seniors prior to Saturday’s final regular-season home game.

Turns out, Raider fans will get to see Trey Calvin, Tanner Holden and the rest of the crew inside the Nutter Center one more time. Calvin scored 23 and Holden added 16 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Raiders beat Northern Kentucky, 94-88, earning a first-round Horizon League tournament bye and a home game against the Norse in the tournament quarterfinals Thursday.

“We knew what was at stake,” Holden said. “Not just senior night, but for the conference tournament. We had to win this game. Senior night’s always a big day. Lot of emotions with it. The biggest thing was coming out with the right mindset, not waiting around. So I thought we did a great job with that.”

NKU, which plays one of the best zone defenses Coach Scott Nagy has seen, switched things up and made it difficult for the Raiders to get the ball inside. So they hoisted 25 three pointers, making 11 en route to shooting 54.2 percent from the field, which is about the norm for the nation’s top shooting team.

“Moving around a lot,” Calvin said. “We worked on it a lot in practice. As long as we’re moving the ball and moving off the ball, it’s very hard to guard. It could have been our last home game. We definitely had that on our mind.”

After an entertaining first half that was tied at 22-all about midway through, the Raiders outscored the Norse 23-16 the rest of the way to take a 45-38 halftime lead. The lead reached as many as 15 in the second half before the Norse cut it to 64-58 with 12:08 left. The Raiders upped to lead to 14 twice in the final eight minutes, once on a layup by Holden and the other time on a three-pointer by Alex Huibregtse off an assist from Holden.

Marques Warrick, who had a game-high 39 points, did what he could to keep the Norse close by sinking three three-pointers in the final 2:45 and a pair of Trey Robinson free throws cut it to 92-88 with 13 seconds left, but Huibregtse made two free throws and a steal to end it.

Huibregtse and Brandon Noel each scored 19 and AJ Braun added 12 for the Raiders. Noel also had 12 rebounds while Braun had eight.

“We were pretty good offensively,” Nagy said. “I wish we’d take better care of the ball. I don’t like 15 turnovers. We did rebound it well.”

WSU (18-13 overall, 13-7 HL) out-rebounded the Norse 37-31 and held NKU to just seven offensive boards. The Raiders also had a decided advantage at the free throw line, making 19 of 28 compare to 10 of 16 for the Norse (17-14, 12-8).

Nagy wasn’t overly concerned about Warrick’s night.

“He just made shots,” Nagy said. “Most of those shots he was guarded. Heck of a good player.”

So now the two teams get to do it all over again Thursday. But that game comes with a trip to the Horizon League semis and a trip to Indianapolis. That the Raiders swept the season series from the Norse means little to Nagy as the emphasis will be on looking ahead, not behind.

“It’s hard to beat a good team once, it just is,” he said. “You’ve got to play them one time. That’ll be the focus. It’s just that game. It’s two good programs.”

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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