VALPARAISO | When Reggie Arceneaux lost his spot in the starting lineup last month, the Wright State sophomore took it as an opportunity to add more stability to the second unit.
Arceneaux delivered on Friday night, recording his first double-digit scoring game since Jan. 30 as the No. 3 Raiders put forth a strong defensive effort in a 66-59 win over No. 6 Youngstown State to advance to the Horizon League semifinals.
The sophomore guard had 11 points off the bench; including two key 3-pointers late in the game that helped hold off a furious Youngstown rally.
“There’s no drop-off on the bench,” Arceneaux said. “We can play as hard as we want. Our defense is efficient because we have the mentality of knowing someone is going to come in behind you with the same intensity.”
Arceneaux hit his first 3-pointer of the game to cap off a 17-3 first half-run that put Wright State up by 10 points. The Raiders extended a 33-19 halftime lead to 18 points before Youngstown State began to claw back.
The Penguins cut the deficit to six points when Arceneaux hit his second 3-pointer with 8:42 remaining in the game. The New Orleans native added his final 3-pointer when Youngstown State cut the game down to one possession with less than four minutes to go. The Penguins never got close than three points for the rest of the game.
“Reggie is a kid that takes big shots,” Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. “I want him to take smart shots.”
All-League performer Kendrick Perry returned to the lineup for the Penguins after missing the previous four games with a knee injury, but the junior struggled to get in the flow of the game and didn’t come alive until the second half. Perry finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
“Physically I was fine, but mentally there was a little rust,” Perry said. “Mentally I was held back from attacking.”
Miles Dixon led the Raiders (20-11) with 14 points off the bench while A.J. Pacher and Jerran Young added 13 points apiece.
Kamren Belin had 20 points and five rebounds to lead the Penguins (17-15), but Blake Allen missed all eight of his 3-point attempts and finished with just six points.
“They did a really good job on Blake in the first half, but in the second half he missed some shots that he normally makes,” Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum said. “We had enough stops, but Arceneaux hit some big shots. It’s disappointing because I thought we had good stops.”