OXFORD — Travis Steele was hoping that Miami’s win at Bellarmine on Saturday was a sign that the RedHawks were turning around their season.
Then they played Wright State on Thursday.
Trey Calvin, the Raiders’ 6-foot senior guard, came off the bench to score 27 points as Wright State held off Miami for an 88-80 non-conference win before a crowd of 1,055 at Millett Hall in Oxford
“Congratulations to Wright State,” Steele said. “I have a lot of respect for what coach (Scott) Nagy has accomplished in his time there. They’re always in the running for NCAA tournament appearances and conference championships.”
Redshirt-freshman Brandon Noel, a 6-8 forward, scored 11 points in 26:28 and 6-3 junior guard Alex Huibregtse also finished with 11 off the bench in 21:28 as Wright State enjoyed a 50-7 advantage in points off the bench and 23-6 in fast break points. The Raiders shot 63.3 percent from the field (19-of-30) after halftime and outscored Miami, 44-32, in points in the paint for the game.
Miami (5-7) finished with four players in double figures, led by 5-foot-8 fifth-year senior guard Mekhi Lairy with 32 points – two shy of matching the career high he set at Georgia earlier in the season. But that wasn’t enough to overcome a balanced Wright State offense that featured nine players scoring at least two points.
“It’s my job to put the team on my back,” Lairy, a tri-captain, said.
The Raiders (7-6) led by 22 points, 76-54, with 6:47 left in the game before Lairy led a determined comeback that cut the deficit to four points before the Raiders pulled away down the stretch.
“That’s been the story of our season,” Steele said. “Sometimes we’re great. Sometimes we’re pitiful. It’s been a roller-coaster. I was hoping the light had clicked on after the Bellarmine game, but it didn’t.”
“We have to do a better in our transition defense. We tell them that they have to focus on things they can control and not worry about the things they can’t control. We have to be more together and connect as a team.
The Raiders never trailed after 6-6 redshirt-senior guard Tim Finke snapped a 19-19 tie on tip-in with 7:17 left in the first half.
The win was Wright State’s fourth straight in the series, but Miami still owns a 21-17 lead in the rivalry.
The RedHawks connected on their first three 3-point shots of the game on the way to a 17-11 lead with 11:46 left in the first half, but they misfired on their next six tries, opening the door for the Raiders to open up a 35-27 lead with 2:23 left before halftime.
Calvin, who scored a game-high 16 points the last time the two teams met in a 71-47 Wright State win on Dec. 5, 2020, scored 14 points in the first half on Thursday.
Lairy scored nine points to lead Miami in the first half. Wright State took advantage of nine Miami turnovers to build a 37-32 halftime lead.
The RedHawks are off until playing Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millett Hall in their final non-conference game before opening their Mid-American Conference schedule at Central Michigan on Jan. 3.
Wright State is scheduled to resume Horizon League play at Northern Kentucky on Thursday and at IUPUI on Jan. 2 before returning to the Nutter Center to host Detroit Mercy on Jan. 6.
Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods at Miami, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450
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