Youngstown State was glad to be playing anywhere but Pittsburgh, and seven days off meant a well-rested team could handle some overtime. Unfortunately for the Penguins (3-4), Kent State was up to the challenge and came out on the right end of a very competitive basketball game, 85-78. The Penguins demise in the game was a 4-20 shooting performance from three-point range.
“We had chances in a hard fought ball game, but we did not shoot well from three and we are not playing good in big moments”, said Jerry Slocum.
In the overtime, both teams lit it up, but a three-point play by Kent’s Darren Goodson with 2:21 left gave the Flashes (5-2) a 78-74 lead. After cutting it to a two-point game, the Penguins threw the ball out of bounds and had to go into foul mode. Kent State did well to convert and hold a lead.
The Penguins and the Golden Flashes played a pretty even first half. YSU got ten points from Damian Eargle and ten more from Kendrick Perry (above) in the opening stanza. KSU got nine apiece from Mark Henninger and Randal Holt, but it was the Penguins who headed into the locker room ahead, 36-34.
Kent State used a 13-3 run to open the second half. Holt knocked down a three which gave the Flashes their largest lead in the contest at 47-39 with 16:14 left to play in the game. Kamren Belin cut the lead to 47-43 with just over 15 minutes to go on a nice drive from the right of the paint, in.
Perry than did what he does best, throw the Penguins on his back for a stretch of time when everything seems to be going wrong. First Perry hit a three to make it 49-46, and on the next possession, he hit a runner straight down the lane to trim the Kent lead to one. Perry then hit a three with 12:14 left in the game to give YSU a 51-50 lead.
DJ Cole (above) gave the Penguins a spark when he grabbed rebound and went the length of the floor, finishing his drive with a wicked crossover dribble. The basket pulled the Penguins to within one at 59-58 with just over eight minutes to play.
With 5:37 left in the game, the Penguins tied the game at 63 when Blake Allen knocked down a three with a hand in his face. The next basket either team would score came at the 2:36 mark, three minutes later, when Eargle connected on a pair of free throws that gave YSU a 65-63 lead.
Melvin Tabb completed the traditional three-point play to put Kent back on top. Belin would tie things up on a free throw with 1:14 left. Kent got the ball in a tie game with 26 seconds left,and after a timeout, failed to convert forcing an overtime.
“We have played a lot of really good teams”, added Slocum. ” I do feel like we have beaten ourselves in each loss though.”
YSU was paced by Perry who finished with 26 points. Eargle finished up with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Allen chipped in 12.
“They made a couple more plays then we did”, said Perry. “We have to get better at finishing games.”
Kent State got a good night out of Chris Evans who finished with 24 points.