By Will Clark
Youngstown State University forward Bobby Hain came into the season as the most important player on the roster, but he hasn’t played due to a broken foot that he suffered in Youngstown State University men’s basketball team’s game against Notre Dame on Dec. 21.
Head coach Jerry Slocum built a special bond with Hain throughout his years at YSU, Slocum and the team wanted to get a win against Northern Kentucky University in honor of Hain not being able to play on his senior night.
“I wanted this win probably more than any one we had this year,” Slocum said. “I wanted to do it for that dude and I know he didn’t play a minute, but he’s just a great human being and I’m glad we got that win tonight.”
YSU (11-20, 6-12 in the Horizon League) finished the regular season with a 94-75 win. The Penguins were clicking on all cylinders Saturday, shooting 50 percent from the field and also from behind the arc,
going five for ten at 3-point line to finish up the half.
YSU went on a big run leading NKU by 21 at one point, three Penguins were able to end the half in double figures with YSU guard Cameron Morse leading the team with 13 points, and Matt Donlan and Sidney Umude following up with 10 points each.
“We know we had to come in here today and just battle with them we know we were going to go on runs, but are job is to not get to high and not get low keep our composure and play our game,” guard Francisco Santiago said.
The Penguins controlled NKU (9-20, 5-13 in the Horizon League) on the defensive end. YSU prevented the Norse from being able to generate any type of offense. The Penguins saw success when they pressured the ball, which in return caused turnovers. YSU ended the half with a 19-point lead at half.
With a shaky start to the second half, YSU allowed the Norse to cut their 19-point lead down to six, within five minutes of the second half. The Penguins were only able to score three points during Norse run.
“I was telling the guys to keep our heads up. It was time to focus up and we’re good, we missed a couple shots we usually make. We just had to keep battling. We’re at home and playing so well, don’t give this game up just keep playing the way we’ve been playing the whole game and it’s going to come through for us,” Santiago said.
YSU was able to refocus and put the clamps back down on NKU at the defensive end, with 5:15 left in the second half. The Penguins were able to regain a 13-point lead. YSU also kept their offensive attack up with five Penguins finishing in double figures; the Norse just didn’t have enough to keep up with Penguins relentless rain of three’s.
The Beeghly Center held one of its largest crowds of the season. The crowd also supported Hain on senior night with cutouts of his face.
“It was huge when he told us he going to suit up and they were going to call him in the starting line ups,” Santiago said. “It was just like old times, Bob [Hain] has battled with us and has been there through the whole thing. He gave us a couple words before we came out there which brought a little bit of emotion and I think it kind of drove us lets to get a win for him on his last day. You see he has [cutouts] in the crowd. We got to get one for Bob on his night.”
YSU 94, Northern Kentucky 75
Northern Kentucky (9-20, 5-13) — Cole Murray 5-0-13, Drew McDonald 3-6-12, Jalen Billups 5-0-10, Todd Johnson 3-0-9, Tyler White 3-3-9, Lavone Holland II 4-0-8, Jordan Garnett 2-0-4, Deontae Cole 1-0-3, Dean Danos 1-0-3, Jake Giesler 1-0-2, Brennan Gillis 1-0-2. Totals: 29-9-75.
YSU (11-20, 6-12) — Cameron Morse 8-6-25, Jordan Andrews 5-4-17, Sidney Umude 6-4-16, Matt Donlan 5-2-15, Francisco Santiago 5-5-15, Jorden Kaufman 1-2-4, Bryce Nickels 0-2-2. Totals: 30-25-94.
NKU 27 48 — 75
YSU 46 48 — 94
3-point field goals: NKU 8 (Johnson 3, Murray 3, Cole, Danos); YSU 9 (Andrews 3, Donlan 3, Morse 3).
Rebounds: NKU 36 (McDonald 8, Murray 7, Billups 5, Holland II 4, Garnett 4, White 3, Danos, Giesler, Gillis, Johnson, Team 1); YSU 38 (Santiago 10, Donlan 7, Kaufman 4, Morse 4, Andrews 3, Umude 3, Nickels 2, Latin Davis, Team 4).
Offensive Rebounds: NKU 13 (McDonald 4, Billups 3, Garnett 2, Holland II, Giesler, Johnson, Murray); YSU 6 (Kaufman, Nickels, Santiago, Umude, Team 2).