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Wright State rallies from big deficit, posts 81-77 win over NKU to force first-place tie in Horizon League

NKyTribune staff

FAIRBORN, Ohio — The opportunity was there on Friday night for Northern Kentucky University to virtually wrap up the Horizon League regular-season championship.

Wright State, though, had other ideas.

Facing a must-win situation against NKU, Wright State rallied from a 16-point deficit and pulled out an 81-77 victory over the Norse at the Nutter Center in front of a crowd of 6,233. Bill Wampler poured in a career-high 29 points as the Raiders moved into a first-place tie with NKU in the Horizon League standings with a 10-4 record.

NKU’s Tyler Sharpe (15) scored 16 points, but Wright State’s Bill Wampler (1) netted 29 points to key the Raiders’ comeback win. (Photo By Jeff McCurry)

NKU, which dropped to 20-7 overall, defeated Wright State earlier this season at BB&T Arena. A win Friday night would have increased the Norse’s lead in the Horizon League standings to two games and gave NKU the head-to-head tiebreaker. With four games remaining, a victory would have essentially given the Norse a three-game cushion.

Instead, NKU and Wright State are tied at the top of the Horizon League. And now it’s a four-game season — and possibly descending-order tiebreakers with other squads — that will determine the No. 1 seed in the league’s postseason event.

Drew McDonald scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds for NKU, which built a 43-27 lead in the first half but watched Wright State use a 17-6 run to cut the Norse advantage to 49-44 at intermission. Loudon Love finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Wright State, which upped its overall record to 16-11.

Tyler Sharpe and Dantez Walton each scored 16 points for NKU, which was 12-for-27 from 3-point range. The Norse shot 50 percent from the field, including 61.3 percent in the first half.

Jalen Tate, who played just 15 minutes and added six points, was hit with a costly technical foul with 4:45 remaining in the game and NKU holding a 73-70 lead. Wright State responded with an 11-2 run to gain an 81-75 advantage, and the Raiders claimed a share of first place in the Horizon League.

Wright State extended its lead in the all-time series with NKU to 24-11. Since NKU joined the Horizon League, Wright State owns a 5-4 advantage in the series.

NKU plays host to Youngstown State at 7 p.m. Thursday at BB&T Arena.

(Information compiled from NKU Athletics Communications and staff reports)

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