Sitting on a folding chair in the middle of a huddle, senior forward AJ Pacher rallied his Wright State teammates in the second half after Matt Vest took a charge.
“That’s what we do!” Pacher shouted.
The moment didn’t last. A Wright State team decimated by injuries before the game and by fouls during the game opened the season with an 80-76 loss to Findlay, a Division II team, on Friday at the Nutter Center. About the only positive for the Raiders was this exhibition game didn’t count — not on their final record at least.
“Just being a competitive person,” Pacher said, “if you don’t want to win a game like that, you don’t have a pulse.”
J.T. Yoho led the Raiders with 19 points. Pacher scored 16. Freshman Mark Howell had 13.
It was an odd sight at the end of the game. A Wright State team that returned almost everyone, a team with five seniors, had two walk-ons, two freshmen and only one returning player, Reggie Arceneaux, on the court as it desperately tried to come back against the Oilers.
Wright State let a 64-60 lead with 5:20 to play slip away. Findlay, led by Greg Kahlig’s 20 points, seized control with a 13-0 run. The Raiders committed 30 fouls — the emphasis on calling hand-check fouls played a part in that — and four players fouled out.
The loss might not be even the worst news. Cole Darling left the game in the second half with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Just when it appeared the Raiders were overcoming the injury bug — Matt Vest, Pacher and Darling, who all had offseason surgeries, started — the news keeps coming.
Kendall Griffin didn’t play Friday because of an injury. WSU coach Billy Donlon said he couldn’t say what the injury was, but he expects Griffin to be ready for the season opener Nov. 10 against Mount St. Joseph. Jerran Young had missed weeks of practice with a high ankle sprain, but he practiced Thursday and played Friday.
The worse news involves senior guard Miles Dixon. Donlon said he is questionable for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. It’s the same injury Darling had last year, but in Dixon’s case, it’s worse becaue it’s his right (shooting) shoulder.
“You’ve just got to coach the guys that you have,” Donlon said. “You can’t worry about the rest of it. Nobody throws anybody pity parties in athletics, or in life, more importantly. Where I do feel bad is for the kids. I feel awful. Nobody has had a better offseason than Miles Dixon.”