Hoping to surprise the Horizon League leaders on its home floor on Thursday night, Green Bay battled Wright State from start to finish before coming up just short 68-64 in the final seconds at the Nutter Center. The Phoenix (10-17, 5-9 HL) took an 11-point lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, but the Raiders (19-7, 11-2 HL) responded with a 12-0 run to get back the momentum and the eventual nail-biting victory.
Wright State took the early 19-11 lead with 6:43 left in the first half, but upset-minded Green Bay locked in for a 14-0 run to close out the half before taking a 26-19 lead into the break. GB held WSU scoreless the final 6:43, getting an offensive spark from Sandy Cohen III who scored 11 of GB’s 14 points during that stretch.
Cohen III registered his second career double-double, leading the Phoenix with 21 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the game. It’s the fourth 20-plus point scoring effort in league play by Cohen this year, who finished 7-for-14 from the field with three steals.
GB and WSU were tied at 58-58 when the under-4 minute media timeout hit, and GB held possession. Cohen turned it over and Grant Benzinger scored five-straight points to give the Raiders the 63-58 lead, before David Jespersonmade four-straight free throws to cut the deficit to one at 63-62 with 44 seconds left.
The ensuing possession, Jaylon Hall was fouled after grabbing his missed 3-point attempt and went on to make one of his two attempts. GB got the ball back with 13 seconds left, but Kameron Hankerson turned it over with 6 seconds left and WSU iced the game away at the free throw line from there.
Jesperson totaled a new career-high 18 points, knocking down four of his 11 3-point attempts and giving his team a chance late in the game with clutch free throws. Jesperon also hit big 3s in the second half, which helped GB slow Wright State’s momentum.
Senior Khalil Small scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Hankerson added 10 points of his own.
Neither team shot particularly well in the game, although GB did make 11 3s on 31 attempts. GB never trailed by more than eight points and only turned the ball over 10 times.
Wright State was led by Benzinger’s 22 points, as the player of the year candidate single handily brought the Raiders back into the game in the second half. Benzinger also scored seven clutch points in the closing minutes, helping WSU keep Green Bay winless on the road this season (0-12).
Green Bay will make the short drive south to Highland Heights, Ky., where it will face Northern Kentucky next. The Phoenix and Norse, which beat Milwaukee on Thursday, will tip at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday (Feb. 10) night at BB&T Arena.