The Wright State men's basketball team closed to within two on three different occasions in the second half, but could not get over the hump as Horizon League leader Valparaiso held on for a 68-61 decision at WSU's Nutter Center Tuesday night.
The Crusaders never trailed in the contest as they used a 7-0 run, the final five by Ben Boggs, to take a 20-10 lead with 9:45 remaining in the first half. Wright State cut the deficit to 22-19 following a Matt Vest dunk at the 7:17 mark, only to see Valparaiso answer with 10 unanswered points to take its biggest lead of the night at 32-19 with 2:39 left.
WSU, which shot 38 percent in the first half, scored nine of the final 11 points of the period to only trail 34-28 at the break. The Crusaders, meanwhile, shot 48 percent.
Valpo again pushed the advantage into double figures twice in the early going of the second half before a Reggie Arceneaux three made it 48-45 with 11:42 remaining. The Raiders then drew to within two three different times over the next six minutes, but could not tie the game or take the lead.
The margin was 62-59 until two Kevin Van Wijk free throws and a Matt Kenney jumper with the shot clock winding down pushed the lead to seven.
The Crusaders shot 49 percent from the field for the game and were 18 of 20 from the foul line, 13 of 14 in the second half, while WSU shot 42 percent and was 12 of 14 at the stripe, but only two for two after halftime.
AJ Pacher led the Raiders with a career-high 23 points, 16 in the second half, eclipsing his previous best of 16 against Youngstown State on December 3, 2011. Miles Dixon added 13 off the bench as Wright State held a 45-23 advantage in bench scoring.
Van Wijk paced Valparaiso (20-6, 10-2 Horizon) with 20 points and nine rebounds while Kenney had 15 off the bench and Ryan Broekhoff added 10.
Wright State (17-9, 8-5 Horizon) is now off for just over a week as the Raiders don't return to action until Wednesday, February 20, when WSU heads to Cleveland State for a 7:00 game.