Penguins Fall to Michigan State

Donlan, Santiago Step Up in Morse’s Absence

By Dan Hiner

The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team has been without star guard Cameron Morse for the last few games. But despite not having Morse, the Penguins were still able to compete with Michigan State University.

YSU (5-5) lost 77-57 to the Spartans on Tuesday night.

Penguins’ head coach Jerry Slocum said the team played well on the defensive side of the ball, but offensively, the Penguins struggled to put up points. Michigan State, however, was able to get out in transition against the YSU defense.

“I thought we played a pretty good game. I thought we did a really good job on the defense end,” Slocum said. “All of our inadequacies on the offensive end caused our game to not have an opportunity [for us] to be in it at the end. By that [I mean], 12 or 13 turnovers led to 18 points. Our offense was a problem in that game.

“It wasn’t necessarily a surprise, because they’re physical. They’re very good at their ability at the defensive end. I thought our guys, in the last three games, did a really good job defensively. We just, offensively, had enough to beat Robert Morris [University]. And obviously, last night we didn’t shoot the ball very well.”

Slocum said the team had open looks but was unable to make shots. The Penguins were held to 20 of 61 from the field (32.8 percent shooting) and allowed the Spartans to make 50.7 percent of their shots.

For a team that likes to score quickly, YSU only had seven fastbreak points. YSU guard Matt Donlan said defenses are aware of the need to stop YSU’s high-paced offense.

“Obviously it wasn’t our best output. Obviously we make some mistakes,” Donlan said. “It was a new environment, it was loud, we didn’t execute the way that we wanted too, but I definitely think it was a building block for us and a learning experience that we can take with us into league play.”

Michigan State (6-4) controlled the paint. YSU was outscored 34 to 12 in the paint and was outrebounded 47 to 32. Donlan said the team’s inability to score let it affect the other aspects of the game. He said the Penguins need to learn to play well in other areas even when the offense can’t produce.

Donlan led the team in scoring with a season-high 21 points. Donlan’s backcourt mate Francisco Santiago had his first double-double of the season — 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Slocum said the team will be without Morse for a while. He said the team doesn’t plan on playing Morse until he’s completely healthy.

“Structurally it’s kinda OK; it’s a wrist sprain,” Slcoum said. “We’re holding him out for as long as we have too. I feel like conference play is more important than anything else, and if we had to hold him until the end of December for conference play, then we got to do what we got to do.”

The Penguins will go on the road to play American College in their next game. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday.