By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team lost to the University of Detroit Mercy 83-70 on Saturday. The loss was possibly the team’s worst game of the season, struggling to gain any momentum from the opening tipoff.
The Titans started the game on a 13-4 run and look in complete control until the halfway through the first half. Detroit was creating interior penetration which led to high percentage attempts and easy scores.
The Penguins went on a 13-4 with 11:27 remaining in the first half—cutting the Titan lead to 32-26. Unfortunately, YSU was unable to capitalize on three free throw attempts from Cameron Morse that would have cut the Detroit lead to one point before halftime.
The Penguins’ defense was more aggressive during their run—recording four of the team’s 10 steals. The team wasn’t able to transition that defensive aggressiveness into the second half however, taking the ball away only four times in the entire second half.
The Penguins gained the lead with 14:21 remaining in the game, but the lead didn’t last long as the Titans made a 3-pointer on the following possession. That was YSU’s only lead of the game. Head coach Jerry Slocum though the team might have regained control of the game, but miscues on the next several possessions hurt the Penguins’ chances of regaining the lead.
“We missed 13 foul shots, didn’t guard anybody…probably one of our worst defensive games of the year,” Slocum said. “Guys that need to play well didn’t play well. It was very disappointing. I thought when we took the lead 50-49 I thought we were back in it. We went seven straight possessions—four turnovers, two missed shots and two missed free throws.”
The defense had trouble stopping the Titan offense all game. Detroit shot 68.2 percent from the field, including 64.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. The defense slightly improved in the second half. The Titans shot 80 percent in the first half, but their shooting percentage dropped down to 58.3 percent during the second half.
Detroit outrebounded the Penguins 28-17, including 22 defensive rebounds. The Titans had six offensive rebounds that led to 13 second chance points.
Forward Shawn Amiker led the Penguins in scoring with 19 points—shooting 5-8 from the field. Point guard DJ Cole was second on the team in scoring with 13 points.Unfortunately, the two best players on the team struggled throughout the game. Center Bobby Hain only had six points and three rebounds. Shooting guard Marcus Keene scored 12 points, but was only 2-10 from the field. Most of Keene’s points came from the free throw line.
“Shawn has really played well in the past four or five games. I thought Shawn Stewart getting into foul trouble hurt us; he played really well at Wright State [University],” Slocum said. “I thought Cameron Morse played well, although he is one of our best free throw shooters, so for him to be 0-4 four is not like him. We had some main guys really play poorly tonight. We’re not going to get it done without those guys playing better.”