By Will Clark
Youngstown State University men’s basketball team fought hard, but fell short against Cleveland State University. The Penguins lost 64-59 on Saturday night.
YSU (9-17, 4-9 in the Horizon League) was trailing Cleveland State (8-18, 3-10 in the Horizon League) by seven with just over 8:30 left in the game, but just when the Penguins began to cut into the Vikings’ lead, a costly turnover by YSU forward Bryce Nickels killed the Penguins’ momentum.
Nickels was in good position on the right block and was in position to for a high-percentage shot, but he lost control of the ball and it went out of bounds on the baseline. That was the first of a series of mistakes that plagued the Penguins during the final nine minutes of the game.
YSU found itself in the bonus early in the second half but turnovers and missed free throws cost YSU the ball game. The Penguins failed to hit costly free throws that could’ve put them within reach. YSU shot 64 percent from the free throw line.
“[I’m] very disappointed with our effort, 15 turnovers, shooting the basketball at 35 percent, 60 percent from the foul line equals a loss — very disappointed in our game,” said YSU head coach Jerry Slocum. “At one stretch we missed four out of six free throws, if we would’ve just hit more of those free throws it would’ve been a one-point ball game.”
From the start of the game YSU had a tough time transitioning with the pace of play that Cleveland State was bringing throughout the first half. The Penguins couldn’t find an answer for CSU forward Demonte Flannigan who finished the first half with 16 points, YSU trailed by 11 at the end of the first half.
From the start of the second half Penguins went on a 11-2 run. YSU guard Jordan Andrews started the second half off with back-to-back three’s and another 3-pointer by Cameron Morse brought the Penguins to within two.
It still wasn’t enough to keep up with the Vikings. CSU finished shooting 46 percent from the field and Flannigan finished the night with a career-high 30 points.
“I give the kid credit he had 30, but they didn’t do anything that we didn’t prepare for but this is as disappointed I’ve been since I’ve been here.” Slocum said
Even with the Penguins disappointing display against CSU, Morse was able to finish with 18 points, zero turnovers, and also went 5-8 from the free throw line