A Foul Mood

Foul Trouble Plagues YSU but Morse has Historic Night

By Dan Hiner

Jeff Covington was the last member of the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team to score 40 or more points in back-to-back seasons in 1975 and 1976. That is, until Tuesday night.

Youngstown State University’s Cameron Morse (24) drives to the basket during the men’s basketball team’s season opener against the University of Akron.

YSU guard Cameron Morse scored 40 points, grabbed four rebounds, had two assists and a steal in the Penguins’ 103-98 loss to the University of Toledo.

“He’s pretty good,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “He’s just really quiet and ‘to himself’ kinda kid that just answers the bell. He’s just a really reserved kid with a lot of confidence, who plays really well.

“I’m proud of his development from his freshman year to now. I’m proud of all our guys in terms of where they’ve come from last year to this year in terms of being better and being better mentally.”

Morse scored a career-high 44 points last season against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Jan 9. He also became the first Penguin to score 40 or more points in multiple games in a 12-month span since John McElroy in 1968.

With YSU (1-1) trailing 87-84 with 1.4 seconds left in the Penguins game against the Rockets, Morse hit a contested 3-pointer to tie the game at 87 and force overtime.

The Penguins hit three straight 3-pointers, two from Morse and one from guard Latin Davis, in the final 21.5 seconds to tie the game.

Slocum said the team is getting “indoctrinated” into how to play quality basketball. He said the team showed toughness in the second half and sees the character of the players as a positive moving forward.

“Obviously last night was a game where I thought we showed great character. I thought we played really, really hard,” Slocum said. “I thought we played well enough to win the basketball game. The discrepancy from the foul line was staggering — I think it was like 48 to 17.

“So given those kinda stats and that performance, our guys really showed a lot of character and a lot of toughness. And I thought we showed good toughness in the [University of] Akron game

“YSU and the Rockets traded baskets, but YSU held the lead with 1:19 left in overtime. But a 5-1 run by Toledo in the final few possessions gave the Rockets the win.”

YSU couldn’t seem to get out of its own way in the first half. The Penguins picked up eight fouls in the first 11 minutes of the game, including two fouls each for guard Cameron Morse and forward Devin Haygood.

By halftime, the Penguins complied 13 fouls and committed nine turnovers — Toledo scored 10 points off turnovers in the first half.

The Penguins never led in regulation. To make matters worse, YSU had to deal with injuries during the first half. Starting forward Rahim Williams suffered a leg injury in the first 10 minutes of the game, and Morse left the game for a few minutes after getting fouled on a drive to the basket.

Williams didn’t return to the game, but Morse, who had six points in the first half, dominated the game in the second half.

With 18:53 remaining in the second half, the Penguin trailed 48-27. But Morse scored 34 points in the final 15:51 of the second half and overtime to slowly trim the lead.

In overtime, the Penguins had to deal with a short bench. After losing Williams to injury, YSU’s Matt Donlan, Brett Frantz and Latin Davis all fouled in the second half or overtime.

Davis was second on the team in scoring. Davis scored a career-high 19 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Slocum said Tuesday’s game was the first time the Penguins had a chance to play on the road since last season. He said the team is using the loss and its play in the first half against Toledo as a learning experience.

“I don’t think we were ready to play on the road yet. I think that first half was a wakeup call to how aggressive and how much noise is in the building — they draw [a crowd] really well,” Slocum said. “There’s a lot of emotion in the building last night, and I think our guys weren’t really ready for it. It’s the first time we shot baskets in a facility other than ours, and I think it took us a little bit of time to find our way.”

YSU will travel to the University of South Alabama to play in the Red Diamond Roundball Classic. The Penguins will play three games from Friday through Sunday, and the final game of the tournament will take place against Westminster College at the Beeghly Center on Tuesday.