After Tuesday night’s game, Penguins head coach Jerry Slocum glanced down at the final stat sheet, read his team’s 3-point statistics for the night and could only muster up one word.
“Wow,” he said.
In Youngstown State University’s 99-87 victory against Oakland University Tuesday night at the Beeghly Center, the Penguins were hot from behind the arc.
YSU connected on 18 of 35 3-point attempts, which went a long way in claiming a first round victory in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Those 18 shots are a new school record.
“I don’t know who the shooting coach is, but he’s doing a heck of a job,” Slocum said.
Who is the shooting coach?
“Me,” he said with a laugh.
It was that kind of night for the Penguins, who can enjoy the fact that they captured their first postseason victory since joining the Division I ranks in 1982.
“I just think it’s tremendous,” Slocum said. “I’m glad that we could do our part – and I don’t say that lightly. For this to happen, I felt a lot of responsibility tonight for us to play well and do a really good job.”
YSU (18-15) played well from the tip, as they knocked down 11 first half 3-pointers. Senior guard Blake Allen provided six of them.
“I got the first open look and they were just going down,” Allen said. “I just kept on getting pretty good looks. My teammates kept on finding me and fortunately they were falling tonight.”
Allen entered the game needing 22 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He finished with 27 points on 9 of 15 shooting.
“I knew I was close but I didn’t know the exact number,” he said. “I couldn’t help but hear when they made the announcement. So I was like, ‘huh, I got it.’”
As hot as Allen was early on, so were the Golden Grizzlies (16-17), who were led by Travis Bader’s 30 points. They shot 53 percent in the first half to take a 44-43 lead into the break.
However, they couldn’t keep pace in the second half. Oakland shot 41 percent in the final 20 minutes, while YSU connected on 51 percent of its attempts.
“It was a great opportunity that we had, especially in front of a good home crowd,” said junior guard Kendrick Perry in reference to the announced attendance of 3,056 fans.
YSU had five players score in double figures. In addition to Allen, Perry led the team with 31 points, Kamren Belin had 16, Damien Eargle added 12 and Bobby Hain tallied 11.
“This is the team that I thought could have made a run at our own league throughout the tournament,” said Slocum, who’s Penguins have struggled with injuries all season. “That’s the team I’ve seen in practice. That’s the team I’ve seen when the ball moves.”
The Penguins will know their CIT second round opponent, as well as the game time, Wednesday night at the conclusion of the first round games.