Riding the wave of a 2-0 road start, Youngstown State got to play a home game. The Penguins responded in an adequate way – with a win. YSU scored 42 points in the first fifteen minutes of the second half to pull away from Saint Francis and coast to a 75-60 win to push their record to 3-0 for the second season in a row.
“The key to the game was the first seven to eight minutes of the second half”, said Jerry Slocum. “We preached on the way home from Georgia that we have to keep our identity and know how to handle winning. We need to stay grounded in our fundamentals and our team play.”
The Penguins and the Red Flash played a pretty even 18 minutes to start the game. YSU trailed by four points with 7:52 left in the opening session, but were able to close the half strong enough to carry a 29-24 lead into the locker room. Kendrick Perry paced Youngstown State with 11 points.
The Red Flash got nine points from Stephon Whyatt and another eight from Stephon Mosley, but no more than three points from any other player. The Red Flash started the game doing a very good job on defense, but the Penguins adjusted to assert their skills.
Senior guard Blake Allen (above) heated up in the second half. Allen connected on a three with 15:01 to play that gave YSU a 42-30 advantage. The next Saint Francis possession, Kamren Belin stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for the easy layup to push the Penguin lead to 14. After a defensive stop, Allen connected for another three to give YSU their biggest lead of 17 points.
Allen talked about his regimen between practices.
“I get in the gym every chance I get”, said Allen. “I shot anywhere from 800-900 free throws in the last two days.”
The Penguins were the beneficiary of good half-court defense forcing the Red Flash into ten second half turnovers. In fact, YSU scored 22 points off of Red Flash turnovers in the game.
Meanwhile, Perry kept consistently knocking down buckets for the Penguins. KP had the whole array going as he was hitting twos, threes, free throws, and layups. He would finish the game with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Perry and Allen spearheaded an outburst that made it 67-46 with 7:09 left to play in the contest. Allen’s sixth three in eight tries and a pair of Perry charity tosses boosted the Guins to their largest lead.
Allen knocked down six threes on his way to 18 points and Damian Eargle played a good all-around game as he knocked in 12 points, blocked two shots and garnered five rebounds.
The Red Flash were lead by Whyatt who would finish the game with 18 points.
The Penguins head back to the road for three games in three days starting Monday at North Dakota State, then head back East to face James Madison on Tuesday, and conclude the swing Wednesday night at Duquesne.
“Our schedule is simply a gauntlet. All three of those teams we play in three days are very good teams with high basketball IQ’s”, said Slocum.