By HAL McCOY
The schedule said that Wright State University was supposed to play IUPUI Sunday afternoon at the Nutter Center.
As it turned out, they played IUUI, because the Raiders knocked the ‘P’ right out of their opponent.
It was Wright State 106, IU(P)UI 66.
The 40-point victory came on ‘Senior Day’ because it was WSU’s last home game, although they have three Horizon League road games remaining.
And the victory was even sweeter when the Raiders heard the news from down the road about 70 miles south. University of Illinois-Chicago obliterated second place Northern Kentucky, 73-43.
That gives the Raiders a two-game lead over NKU in the Horizon League chase with three games to play.
And there was some heart-tugging along the way. Loudon Love scored 18 points and snagged eight rebounds while wearing a new number on his jersey.
In honor of Ryan Custer, Love wore No. 33, the number Custer wore before his disastrous accident two years ago. Custer suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a makeshift swimming pool.
Custer has remained a part of the team, attending nearly every game, and the Raiders kept his locker in the dressing room and his name is listed on the roster.
Custer attended Sunday’s game, unaware what Love was going to do. When he saw the ’33’ on Love’s jersey, “I was near tears,” he said.
Six Raiders scored in double figures, led by 21 scored by sophomore James Manns, who comes off the bench. Seniors Bill Wampler (17 points, seven rebounds) and Cole Gentry (13 points, five assists) scored in double figures in their final home game.
Freshman Tanner Holden added 14 points, six rebounds and five assists as a good time was had by all who wore WSU green-and-white.
When the Raiders quit burning the nets, they owned a 23-5 overall record, 13-2 in the Horizon.
A few days ago, the University of Dayton routed Atlantic 10 rival Rhode Island by beginning the game with a 17-0 lead.
It was as if WSU was saying, “Anything you can do, we can do, too.” The Raiders began Sunday’s game with a 16-0 lead, making six of their first eight shots. IUPUI (6-22, 2-13) was 0 for 11 and scoreless until Jaylen Minnett hit a three with 13:28 left in the half. And WSU kept piling on and led by 60-23 at the half.
While IUPUI is at the bottom of the Horizon League standings, the Jaguars recently beat Wisconsin-Green Bay by 15 on the road and Green Bay owns a victory over Wright State.
After another dominating inside performance, Love said about wearing Custer’s No. 33, “I love the guy. I was one of his best friends and I like to go see him when I can. He is a big part of this team, especially in that tournament run that we had. He struck around for us and I know it can’t be easy for him. It was good to put a smile on his face.”
IUPUI’s two guards, Marcus Burk and Jaylon Minnett, always lead the Jaguars in scoring and did it Sunday, but took a bevy of shots to get their points.
Burk, averaging 21, scored 19 but was 6 for 22 (1 for 5 from three). Minnett, averaging 16 1/2, scored 18 but was 6 for 20 (6 for 15 from three). Those two were the only Jaguars in double figures. Elyjah Goss leads the Horizon League in rebounds and is fourth nationally with a 12 per game average, grabbed only seven against the Raiders.