Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wright State rallies in second half for 60-47 win over Tusculum

DAYTON, Ohio --- Tusculum College gave Division I Wright State University all it could handle Saturday afternoon, leading 25-22 at halftime before the host Raiders pulled away in the second half for a 60-47 victory at the Nutter Center in men's basketball action.

Troy Tabler shook off a first-half injury to score 12 of his game-high 15 points in the second half for Wright State (5-5), which shot an even 50 percent (10-for-20) from the field in the second half and enjoyed a lopsided 31-3 edge in free-throw attempts over the Pioneers (4-6).

In all, four players scored in double figures for the Raiders, as Vaughn Duggins added 13 points, Cooper Land chipped in with 11 and Matt Vest tallied 10 in the victory.

Tusculum was led by junior guard Kevin Vest, who squared off against his younger brother, Matt, and finished with a season-high 14 points along with six rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Vest, a Dayton native in his first season with the Pioneers, shot 7-for-12 from the field and shared the game high in rebounds with sophomore forward JD Miller.

Overall, the Pioneers shot 52.6 percent (20-for-38) from the field, the third straight game that Tusculum has shot better than 50 percent. However, the Pioneers committed 21 turnovers which led to 25 Wright State points.

Wright State scored the game's first eight points on baskets by Land and Matt Vest along with four foul shots from Duggins. The Pioneers got on the scoreboard on a layup by Kevin Vest with 16:34 left in the first half, triggering an 11-1 run that saw Tusculum go ahead 11-9 on a basket by junior guard Justin Steigerwald with 10:07 to play in the half.

The Raiders responded with six unanswered points to regain a 15-11 lead, only to see the Pioneers fight back to go back on top 17-15 with 5:43 left in the half on a jumper by Kevin Vest. Wright State responded with five straight points to go on top 20-17, but Tusculum closed the half by scoring eight of the final 10 points, including three-pointers by sophomore forward Matt Darnell and Steigerwald to carry a 25-22 lead into intermission.

Kevin Vest led the way for Tusculum in the first half with eight points, followed by Steigerwald with seven and Darnell with six off the bench on a pair of three-pointers. The Pioneers shot a sizzinlg 64.7 percent (11-for-17) from the field while the Raiders scuffled at 27.8 percent (5-for-18) but went 11-for-13 from the foul line.

Wright State quickly asserted itself in the second half, tying the game on a three-pointer by Tabler after just 23 seconds. A three-point play by Duggins put the Raiders on top for good at 28-25 with 18:53 left, while each of the Pioneers' first four possessions of the half ended with turnovers.

Tusculum closed the gap to two points at 32-30 and 34-32, the latter with 14:18 to go, but a 10-0 run by the Raiders over the next 3 1/2 minutes gave Wright State a 44-32 lead with 10:44 left. The Raider lead grew to as many as 17 points at 57-40 with 3:33 to play, and the Pioneers shaved four points off the deficit before the final buzzer.

As a team, Wright State finished 26-for-31 from the free-throw line, led by an 8-for-8 effort by Matt Vest and a 7-for-7 performance by Duggins. Miller was 3-for-3 to account for all of Tusculum's attempts, the first coming with just 2:35 left in the game.

Steigerwald just missed reaching double figures for the Pioneers, finishing 4-for-5 from the field and scoring nine points to go along with four assists. Darnell, who tallied a season-high six points Wednesday night against Tennessee Wesleyan, broke that with an eight-point effort on Saturday, while Miller posted seven points to go along with his six rebounds.

Tusculum won the rebound battled by a 26-19 margin and received 15 points from its bench compared to three from Wright State. Tusculum also scored 20 points in the paint versus 14 by the Raiders.

The Pioneers return to action in exactly one week, traveling to North Carolina to play Queens University of Charlotte next Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will be the final non-conference contest of the season for Tusculum and the last road game of the 2010 portion of the Pioneers' schedule.

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