Penguins upset conference leader Valpo


Youngstown State’s Shawn Amiker (4) puts up a layup after being fouled by Valparaiso’s Erik Buggs (15) during the second half of Wednesday nights basketball game at the Beeghly Center. Dustin Livesay/The Jambar


It was a sparse crowd that ended up making more noise than some sellout games.

“It was definitely loud,“ said junior guard Kendrick Perry. “They were booing the [referees] at times and congratulating us after shots. We feed off that energy, so it was nice to have that.”

Understandably, an estimated crowd of 1,800 couldn’t keep quiet during the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team’s upset of the number one ranked team in the Horizon League, the Valparaiso University Crusaders by a score of 80-68.

Perry led all scorers with 28 points and outrebounded everyone with 11 boards, 10 coming on the defensive end.

His double-double carried the Penguins in what he said was one of the more physical games in his career.

“We like to pride ourselves on our toughness, mental and physical,” Perry said.

“That’s their M.O.,” said YSU head coach Jerry Slocum. “You have to be tough to be able to be in a game with them, because they’re going to hit you, bump you, hold you, and I think our kids played through a lot of toughness tonight.

Yet Valpo’s playing style didn’t appear to faze the ‘Guins, who took the lead at the beginning of the game, only allowing the Crusaders to tie once, early on.

“We knew we had to be focused coming into this game,” Perry said.

After the game, Slocum praised the team’s collective effort, but put an emphasis on his bench, which contributed in a large way when called on.

“I thought Bobby [Hain], maybe for the first time since I’ve been here, gave a pound-to-pound presence in the post that gave us the opportunity to really guard the other team’s [forwards],” Slocum said.

Hain, the freshman forward, didn’t appear to have a big night on the box score, but it was his nagging defensive presence that caused Valpo’s forwards Kevin Van Wijk and Ryan Broekhoff, both preseason First Team award recipients, to go 4 for 8 and 3 for 13, respectively.

YSU now heads to Detroit, for a matchup against the University of Detroit Mercy Titans on Friday.

To them, it’s about revenge. On Jan. 10, the Titans dealt YSU its worst loss in years, 101-60 at home.

“We knew what they did here, so we’re going in there with a chip on our shoulder,” Perry said.

“We’ve got a one-day turnover to go play another physically hard game, I hope we’ve got some gas left,” Slocum said.