Wright State and Northern Kentucky have developed a competitive rivalry as two perennial Horizon League contenders. After splitting their two clashes in the regular season, they will meet tonight in the Horizon League Tournament championship game with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
Game time is 7:00 PM eastern and will be shown on ESPN. Fans can also listen to Chris Collins and Jim Brown on the Big 106.5 FM/iHeart app.
The Raiders are 21-12 overall and reached the finals with a quarterfinal win at home against IUPUI, 71-56, Tuesday night and a semifinal win over Green Bay in Detroit Monday night, 66-54. Monday night, Bill Wampler had 18 points while Loudon Love ended with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Malachi Smith had nine points and six boards with Cole Gentry also pitching in nine points. Alan Vest finished with eight rebounds. WSU shot 36 percent from the field and outrebounded the Phoenix 40-34, forcing 16 turnovers. The Raiders led by 20 points early in the second half and held the advantage for more than 37 minutes of the game.
The Raiders are led by first-team member Love with a 15.3 points per game average as well as 8.3 rebounds and second-team member Wampler at 14.8 points per game. Gentry leads the team with 111 assists and ranks third with 11.6 points per game. In the two games versus NKU this year, Wampler has averaged 19 points while Love has averaged 18. The Raiders have shot 48 percent from the field and outrebounded the Norse 32.5-29.5.
WSU leads the overall series 24-11. NKU won on Jan. 11,68-64, and WSU won Feb. 15 at the Nutter Center, 81-77. In the home game, WSU was led by Wampler with his career-high 29 points as Love had 20 points and 11 rebounds. NKU leads the series over the last three years 4-3, including the first round of the 2017 Horizon League Tournament.
Wright State ran through the 2018 Tournament as they took the Horizon League’s NCAA berth, defeating Green Bay (87-72), Milwaukee (59-53) and Cleveland State (74-57) . WSU is now 5-1 in the league tournaments under Scott Nagy while they are 26-23 overall in conference tournaments. WSU, which is making its ninth tournament finals appearance, won the Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League) Tournament over UIC and the 2007 Horizon League Tournament over Butler as well as 2018.
The Norse, 25-8, shared the regular-season title with the Raiders and entered the tournament as the number two seed. NKU defeated Detroit Mercy last Wednesday night 99-88 in the quarterfinals and Oakland 64-63 Monday night in the semifinals. Against the Grizzlies, Drew McDonald hit the game-winning three with less than a second remaining.
Player of the Year McDonald holds a scoring average of 19.3 and 9.5 rebounds while connecting on 63 threes. Tyler Sharpe at 14.4 points, Jalen Tate at 13.9 and Dantez Walton at 11.0 also average in double-figure scoring. NKU has the league’s second best offense at 79.0 and second best defense, giving up 68.4 points.