The Wright State men's basketball team scored the first eight points of the contest and trailed by just four at the half, only to see Utah pull away in the second half for a 66-54 decision Saturday night at the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament in Salt Lake City.
WSU came out firing, scoring the first eight points of the game on threes by JT Yoho and Reggie Arceneaux along with a Tavares Sledge layup and the margin was seven at 16-9 as Arceneaux connected on a jumper with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Utah, however, followed with eight straight points to go in front for the first time and took the lead for good at 23-22 on two Dallin Bachynski foul shots at the 3:28 mark. Miles Dixon cut the Raider deficit to 28-26 with a jumper in the final minute before Jarred DuBois hit two at the foul line to give the Utes a 30-26 halftime advantage.
Both teams shot the ball well in the opening 20 minutes as Wright State hit 12 of 25 for 48 percent while Utah was nine of 20 for 45 percent, but the Utes also made nine of 11 foul shots while the Raiders did not attempt a free throw.
WSU still only trailed by four at 46-42 following an Arceneaux three with 9:30 to play, but Utah followed with a 17-4 run over the next five minutes, the first 10 coming from Jordan Loveridge, to go up 63-46 with 4:02 left.
The Utes shot 49 percent for the game, including eight of 19 from three-point range, and went 18 of 22 at the foul line while the Raiders shot 44 percent, five of 19 from behind the arc, and was just one of two at the stripe. Wright State led 24-18 in points in the paint and 19-8 in points off of turnovers.
Arceneaux led WSU with 12 points while Yoho had nine and Kendall Griffin and Dixon eight each. Matt Vest had five points and dished out six assists.
Loveridge paced all scorers with 22 for Utah (4-1) and nearly posted a double-double as he also had nine rebounds. Bachynski had 16 and DuBois 12.
Wright State (4-2) returns home to host Morehead State on Saturday, December 1, at 2:00.
Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak
On Jordan Loveridge's performance
"It was really good. I think he's a very capable player. The one thing I was talking to Bill [Riley] on the radio was, I like the balance of our team. If you look at the last three or four games, I think four games, we've had somebody [step up], between Dallin and Jarred and now Jordan. What I'm hoping that this leads to is a pretty balanced attack. The perfect scenario in my mind when you're coaching is, maybe at the college level, to have five guys who are really close to double figures, if not in double figures. It creates a team atmosphere too, where everybody's fine with it and whoever's got it going on that particular night we're going to roll with it. I think we got Jordan the ball and he made his first shot. And I think some of the growing pains that he's going through, he's still thinking [too much]. He's still a little bit uncertain about plays. But, making his first shot was a big key and he did a good job for us on the glass for us as well, he's making good progress."
On the test from Wright State
"We talked to our players about how this was a good team. This was the best team we have played up until this point. They are a really solid team defensively. They did a good job offensively, a lot of pick-and-rolls. They may have set a record with the number of pick-and-rolls they used over the course of the game. They're in the same league as Butler, that's kind of the ‘MO'. When I called the time out [the first one of the game], our guys came out and you would have thought we were playing the Miami Heat. It was complete confusion on offense. We gave up a couple shots, but when we went down on offense, I looked at our guys, and they all looked at me like I was going to come running out there, it was crazy. We were in quick sand."
Sophomore center Dallin Bachynski
"All week my teammates and the coaches have been giving me more confidence, saying keep shooting, keep shooting, and I kept shooting and finally it started falling. I'm a little more comfortable with [the starting role]. My teammates are giving me a lot of confidence. Glen [Dean], JD [Jarred DuBois], [Jason] Washburn have all been saying, ‘keep working hard, keep going to the glass, keep just being that energy guy.'
"One of the things I have noticed is that we improved every game [through the tournament]. The competition also increased with every game, but we matched it, and even went further than the other teams. We grew as a team, not just offensively and defensively, but we were able to execute plays a whole lot better, were able to find each other better. Of course there were some breakdowns, but I feel that as a team we're a lot more comfortable and I fell like each game became more comfortable for us."
Freshman forward Jordan Loveridge
"We're a lot stronger than a lot of teams, especially me and [Bachynski], we're a lot stronger. [Bachynski] is bigger than anyone I've ever played against, and coming into the games, that's what [our opponents] were saying too. I think we always have an advantage inside and that's where we like to start games, inside and out."
Wright State Head Coach Billy Donlon
"Loveridge is terrific. I thought he didn't play well last night, but on Wednesday and tonight he played terrific. We couldn't score down low against him very often tonight. We got a little impatient on offense and Utah was able to get into a rhythm."
"Overall we competed hard tonight. I thought on Wednesday we didn't compete well, but tonight we competed hard and can be proud of our effort."
"I thought we defended the post well. A lot of Utah's points came from outside or they drove and scored that way, but they didn't get a lot of low post points. That was our focus to take away the post from them and we did that for most of the game, they just got a lot of transition points. We started to run out of gas later in the game, which was a fear of mine, but I was pleased with our effort tonight."