Down 14 early in the second half and 11 with 5:43 to play, the Wright State men's basketball team closed the game with an 18-4 run, including the final eight points of the contest, to pull out a 62-59 win over Loyola Monday night at WSU's Nutter Center.
WSU led twice in the early going, the second time at 5-4 on a Cole Darling three-pointer, but it was Loyola that was in control for most of the period as the Ramblers tallied seven straight points to take the lead and extended the margin to as much as 13 on two occasions before going into the halftime break up 34-22.
Loyola hit 11 of 19 shots in the first half, including all four three-point attempts, and was eight of 10 from the line while the Raiders shot just 30 percent.
The lead grew to 14 on a Christian Thomas dunk to start the second half and despite Wright State cutting the deficit to 37-31 with a 9-1 burst and later drawing to within three at 39-36 on a Joe Bramanti triple, the Loyola margin was 55-44 on a Jeff White layup at the 5:43 mark.
Eight straight points, including three from Jerran Young and Miles Dixon, started WSU on its comeback and a 5-0 run, capped off by two Dixon free throws, tied the game at 59 with 2:12 to play.
A Darling fadeaway jumper from the left gave the Raiders the lead for good with 1:18 left and, despite Loyola having four attempts to tie the game in the final minute, that stood up until Dixon hit one of two foul shots with eight seconds remaining.
The Ramblers had one final chance, but could not come up with a shot as Darling forced a turnover.
Loyola shot 50 percent for the game, five of eight from three, and hit 18 of 22 free throws while Wright State shot 45 percent from the floor thanks to a 14 of 22 second half, was seven of 17 from behind the arc and made 11 of 19 foul shots.
Turnovers, though, proved to be key as WSU forced 24 while committing 13, resulting in a 31-11 differential in points off turnovers.
Darling led all scorers with 17 points for the Raiders while the bench added 37 as Young had 11, AJ Pacher nine and Dixon eight. Kendall Griffin also had eight points along with seven assists.
Thomas paced Loyola (13-10, 3-7 Horizon) with 13 points and eight rebounds while Devno Turk had 11 and Cully Payne 10 off the bench.
Wright State (15-8, 6-4 Horizon) heads to Wisconsin for two key games this weekend, taking on Green Bay on Thursday, February 7, and Milwaukee on Saturday, February 9, with both contests starting at 8:00 Dayton time.