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Wright State at Butler

January 27, 2004 Columns No Comments



Raiders off to best start ever

by Nick Dettmann

INDIANAPOLIS – During the off-season, Cleveland State and Wright State made coaching changes. In Cleveland, former Michigan State assistant Mike Garland was selected as their new coach. In Dayton, Ohio, another Big Ten assistant, Paul Biancardi was picked as the Raiders’ new coach.

As the season approaches the halfway mark, the two new coaches are at opposite ends of the pendulum. In Cleveland, Garland started 4-2, but has lost 13 straight games. In Dayton, things are much brighter for Biancardi. His squad started 1-5, but is 9-3 since, including 7-1 in the Horizon League, following a thrilling 54-53 win over Butler at the Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“Unbelievable game, they made a terrific comeback at the end,” Biancardi said. “I think if there was 30 more seconds to go, we might’ve lost that game the way they came back.

“I thought our players played extremely hard on the road in a tough environment. I thought we played much better in the second half defensively. Also, only with five turnovers on the road, that’s huge.”

The Raiders (10-8 overall, 7-1 Horizon League) won their sixth game in a row and seventh in their last eight outings. Among those wins was a 51-39 win over Butler on Jan. 3 in Dayton, giving WSU the season sweep of Butler. Coming into the season, Butler had not been swept in a season series in the league since the 1997-’98 season. Now, Butler has had it happen to them twice (UW-Green Bay) this season.

“Had a chance, to be down 12 with 7 minutes to go, it’s a good team obviously,” Butler head coach Todd Lickliter said. “They do some good things.

“(Vernard) Hollins and (Seth) Doliboa were very strong, both of these games that they beat us. We played them twice and they’ve been better than us twice. We didn’t have much of an answer.”

Wright State has stepped up their game on the road. Last season, the Raiders went 0-12 on the road. Now, in five league road games, Biancardi has his crew 5-0 in league road games.

“No,” Biancardi quickly said on his thoughts to his 7-1 league start. “I wanted to win at least one game.”

Wright State was led by Seth Doliboa, as he had 17 points. It is his 16th straight game in which he scores at least 10 points and his 69th time in his last 70 games, tops in the country. Vernard Hollins also had a solid game for Wright State, as he had 13 points and six assists.

“It’s a tough way to lose at Hinkle. But some teams would’ve wilted,” Lickliter said. “We didn’t wilt and I’m proud of them for that and they showed a lot of heart to comeback.

“We went back-and-forth a lot and I thought they answered, they got some weapons. It’s a good mix. Doliboa and Hollins are definitely guys that demand a lot of respect and they can really take advantage of that.”

Butler’s Bruce Horan had a mind-boggling game from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-3 sophomore shot 6-of-10 from three-point range, including hitting his first five attempts. Horan finished the matinee showdown with a game-high 18 points. Duane Lightfoot was also in double figures for the Bulldogs, as he had 10 points.

“It troubles you a whole bunch, but I can’t answer that. Because I don’t think that we’re playing any different. ” Lickliter said after his team went just 2-for-3 from the charity stripe. “I will say this – I thought that they forced us to shoot jump shots. If you’re going to sag, it is hard to drive. It is hard to create foul situations.”

It was a very tight match-up that had the 5,423 fans on the edge of their seats for virtually the entire game, including Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone.

Neither team could establish any sort of momentum or run in the first half. The biggest lead of the half was 22-18 in favor of Wright State with six minutes and three seconds left in the half.

The end of the first half was just an indicator of what was in store. With Butler leading 28-26 on the last possession of the half, Wright State went coast-to-coast and Mark Starkley put up a lay-up with 6.3 seconds left.

Early on in the second stanza, much of the tempo was the same. But that was until the clock turned to under 14 minutes to go. Tied at 38, Wright State finally built some momentum and jumped out to a comfortable 54-42 lead with 5:29 to go – or so they thought.

“Well, in the second half, we got that lead and I looked up and the next thing I know is we’re up 10,” Biancardi said on what he thought was the difference in the game. “I thought that gave us a cushion. On the road you feel somewhat comfortable with a lead up 10. But you know that Butler is coming back via the three and they did.

“I think we are very lucky to win to this game. Maybe more lucky than good.”

“In the stretch in the 2nd half where we didn’t score, we really struggled to find the right answer and to be able to create offense,” Lickliter said. “Guys were open and shot a lot of open shots that didn’t go.”

But being on their home floor, where they have lost only three times under Lickliter before Saturday, the Bulldogs gnawed away the 12-point advantage.

Wright State’s Vova Severovas put up a lay-up with 5:29 to go, to give WSU the 12-point edge. It would be their last point of the game, as they missed three free throws on front-ends of 1-and-1 charity tosses.

Horan drilled his sixth three of the game with 4:15 left to narrow the margin to seven. Butler closed it to four with 1:48 left after a three by 7-foot-0 freshman center Jamie Smalligan.

After a couple of empty possessions, Butler sophomore Avery Sheets drilled a three in front of the Butler bench that erupted the crowd and brought Butler to within one, 54-53 with 12.1 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Wright State in-bounded the ball to DaShaun Woods and Butler was trying to foul him, but could not catch up to him. They finally caught Doliboa with 5.0 seconds left.

“If we could’ve caught up with him (Woods), we were going to foul him. But we couldn’t catch up with him,” Lickliter said. “We were chasing him all over.”

Doliboa went to the line with a chance to give Wright State a cushion. But, the Doliboa missed the shot and Butler’s Mike Monserez grabbed the rebound. Monserez took it the length of the floor, pulled up a 14-foot jumper that hit back iron as the buzzer sounded.

“This will be interesting to see how we respond and that’s the way life is. You gotta get back up,” Lickliter said. “If you let circumstances dictate the way you approach things then you are either going to be down or high.

“I think you got to appreciate the opportunities that you have. We’re at Butler University playing Division I basketball, getting an opportunity to get an education.”

     

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