By Rick Henneman
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team (10-15, 4-8 Horizon League) entered Saturday night’s game against the University of Detroit-Mercy (6-18, 4-8 HL) looking to improve off of their 87-71 defeat against the Titans earlier this season.
The Penguins were unable to grab the win against Detroit losing 90-80.
“I’m disappointed obviously by this whole week’s effort,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “We didn’t take care of business tonight. I thought our defensive intensity was lacking. I am very disappointed in our effort.”
YSU freshman Braun Hartfield scored the first three points for the Penguins after Detroit opened up a four-point lead. The game was back and forth early in the first half until 14:35 to go when YSU junior Cameron Morse hit a three to spark an 11-2 run.
The Penguins had their largest lead of the night (8 points) with 9:14 left in the half when UDM went on a 14-0 run. Detroit forward Jaleel Hogan had seven of the 14 points. UDM led 34-28 with 4 minutes left in the first half.
YSU cut the Titans lead to three and entered halftime trailing 38-35.
Morse led all scorers with 17 first-half points while Hartfield had eight points and five rebounds. Hogan led the Titans with 11 points and five rebounds at half.
UDM took control immediately in the second half and scored the first 12 points. A mid-range jumper from Hartfield ended the Detroit run. YSU trailed 50-37 with 17:36 left in the game.
“We talked about it at the half.” Slocum said, “We felt like we were in a pretty good spot at the half. They had all those guys in foul trouble the last seven minutes of the first half. We came out and we missed three wide open little bunnies [shots] at the beginning of the half. Bad offense led to bad defense and all of a sudden they make two threes and you’re paying for it.”
The Penguins were outscored 23-6 in the first six minutes of the half but their troubles didn’t end there. Detroit continued to pull away to stretch their lead to 26 with 8:56 left in the game. Slocum said that his team lacked energy on defense in the second half.
“I think defense is about pride and heart,” Slocum said. “Our effort in our rotations wasn’t good. I thought our effort on the offensive glass, rebounding the basketball, wasn’t good. It was disappointing to be in that position after our Cleveland State win a week ago.”
YSU began to chip away at the Detroit lead late in the second half bringing the game within 13 with three and a half minutes to go. YSU sophomore Devin Haygood fouled out of the game with 2:53 left on the clock. He had 14 points and four rebounds.
UDM defeated the Penguins 90-80. Detroit guard Corey Allen led the Titans with 27 points while Hogan finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Morse led YSU with 20 points and Hartfield scored 18, one off of his career-high. He also had 10 rebounds to record his first career double-double.
“We had a long talk after the game on Thursday night,” Slocum said about Hartfield. “You get a little concerned as a freshman that he hit that freshman wall. It’s a long year and it’s totally different physically from what these guys are used too.”
Slocum also said that they he had a conversation with Hartfield about trying to clear his head. He also said that Hartfield is one of the better freshman in the league.
Hartfield played all 40 minutes of the game.
YSU will look to end their two-game losing streak at the University of Chicago – Illinois on February 9 at 8 p.m.