He was supposed to feed J.T. Yoho in the post but the freshman forward wasn't open. Then he tried driving baseline but two defenders cut off his path to the rim.
Yes, really nothing about Wright State's final possession went the way Miles Dixon planned with the exception of his final shot.
Pinned on the baseline as the the final seconds of regulation melted away Saturday night, Dixon felt his only option was to try a fadeaway jump shot from a difficult angle behind the backboard. Amazingly enough, it went in, delivering third-seeded Wright State a 56-54 victory over defending champion Detroit in the first of Saturday night's two Horizon League semifinals.
"I was supposed to pass it into the post, but they were pressuring me pretty hard and I couldn't deliver the pass," Dixon said. "I drove it baseline but they helped. I saw the time ticking down, I turned around and I shot the ball from behind the basket. I was hoping it would go in and it did."
Dixon's heroics represent the latest step in Wright State's turnaround from 13-19 a year ago to an upper-echilon Horizon League team this season. The Raiders, projected last in the league prior to the season, are now 21-11 overall and in position to earn an unlikely NCAA tournament bid if they beat either top-seeded Valparaiso or fourth-seeded Green Bay in Tuesday's title game.
The key to Wright State's success is a stingy defense that makes up for an sometimes inefficient offense by holding opponents to 39.6 percent shooting. It was that defense that kept the Raiders in it once again on Saturday to enable Dixon to have a chance to win the game at the buzzer.
Wright State held Detroit's high-powered offense in check by shutting down its two stars. Forward Nick Minnerath sank only 2 of 9 shots and standout guard Ray McCallum made only 1 of 7 shots and finished with five points and zero assists, not the type of production the Titans needed to advance.
"We knew the key was stopping [McCallum]," Dixon said. "We played our Wright State defense and we were switching screens and helping on him. We didn't let them space us out. We compacted in so that when they drove they would have to kick out."
Dixon, a Texas native who transferred to Wright State, enjoyed one of the best games of his career, scoring 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting. And of course none of his buckets were bigger than the one that touched off a wild celebration on the Wright State bench.
"Everyone was really excited," Dixon said. "This is the biggest shot of my career. This one means a lot."
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