Wright State’s Loudon Love looks for a shot during a game last season vs. Youngstown State. Love led the Raiders past Miami on Saturday in Oxford. Joseph Craven/WSU ATHLETICS

College basketball: Love powers Wright State past Miami

It was easy to find at Saturday’s Wright State-Miami men’s basketball game. The beef was wearing green uniforms.

Loudon Love, the Raiders’ 6-foot-8 , 260-pound junior center, scored a career-high 27 points and hauled in 16 rebounds to lead a virtually unstoppable Wright State inside attack in an 88-81 win in Miami’s season and home opener at Millett Hall.

Love led a Wright State team that outrebounded Miami by 16, 50-34, while outscoring the RedHawks in the paint 54-36, and in second-chance points, 19-4.

“Love’s a load,” Miami coach Jack Owens said. “I think Wright State came out and played harder than us in a couple of areas. That’s the first time we’ve been outrebounded like that in a long time. They had 19 offensive rebounds, and Love had almost half of them.”

“In the preseason, we wanted consistency in the post – something where, if they need it, we can get two points,” Love said. “We didn’t start hot in the first half. In the second half, we wanted to get that hot start. If it meant me getting an offensive board and putting it back up, that’s what I was going to do. Hopefully, I can do it every time.”

Bill Wampler, Wright State’s 6-6, 220-pound senior forward, scored 17 points to help the Raiders lead, 72-57, early in the second half. Miami sophomore guard Mekhi Lairy scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, including 10 straight in one stretch to lead a Miami comeback that cut the Raiders’ lead to 82-79 with 44 second left.

“The coaches, the team – even the guys on the bench – kept a positive attitude,” Lairy said about the comeback. “We just kept bringing the fight. We were hoping to come out with a win, but we didn’t.

“We were ready for them,” he added. “We knew they were a physical team. They out-toughed us at the end.”

Senior guard Cole Gentry sank four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the Wright State win.

“I’m still bothered by our defense,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy. “It’s just not good enough. We gave up 51 points in the second half. Our defense has to be better. We’ve got plenty of offensive firepower. Really, what won it for us today was our rebounding. That was the difference in the game. We had 19 offensive rebounds. When you outrebound somebody by 16, you’re probably going to win. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a game when it’s been that. I’m a little frustrated with having that kind of a lead and letting them back in the game.”

Miami’s efforts to stymie Love were hampered by a right knee injury suffered by 6-8, 273-pound senior center Bam Bowman midway through the first half. Bowman returned to start the second half and played nine minutes.

“We’re not sure about Bam, percentage-wise,” Owens said. “Hopefully, he’ll be fine.”

Miami junior guard Nike Sibande just missed a double-double with 24 points and nine rebounds.

Wright State (2-0) will stay on the road for a game at Tennessee Tech on Tuesday. Miami (0-1) will at Purdue Fort Wayne on Wednesday.

Love, who scored nine in 18 minutes during WSU’s 96-77 season-opening win over Central State on Tuesday, scored 15 in 14 minutes to help the Raiders lead, 49-40, at halftime. Love scored eight points during WSU’s 13-2 run late in the first half. Wampler, who added seven in 22 minutes against the Marauders, scored 13 in 18 minutes before halftime on Saturday. Wampler was 3-for-3 on 3-pointers in the first half.

Sibande scored 12 points in 18 minutes and junior Dalonte Brown chipped in with 11 in 13 minutes for the RedHawks, who needed Milos Jovic’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut WSU’s lead to 49-40.

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