Archive for February, 2013

Horizon League Tournament Tickets For March 5 Game On Sale Now

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After clinching a 2013 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament First-Round home game on Tuesday, March 5, at the Beeghly Center, the Youngstown State Athletics Department has announced ticket prices for the postseason game.

Tipoff will be at 7:05 p.m. and the game will be on 570-AM WKBN, the Horizon League Network and tape-delayed on MyValleySports.

Reserved tickets are $10 and general admission tickets are $7. Group general admission tickets will $4. Tickets for Youngstown State students are free with a current and valid ID.

Penguin Club members and season-ticket holders have until the end of business, Monday, March 4, to purchase their tickets before they are released to the general public.

The opponent for the Penguins has not been determined.

For more information, please call the Youngstown State Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1YSU (1978).

Phantoms Mazza And Romeo Given Weekly USHL Honors, Anas Crashes Sportscenter

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Goaltender Sean Romeo and blue liner Jimmy Mazza helped lead a stingy Youngstown Phantoms defense that allowed just three goals over a pair of wins this weekend at the Covelli Centre. The United States Hockey League took notice Monday, naming Romeo its Reebok Goaltender of the Week and Mazza its CCM Defensive Player of the Week.

Perhaps stealing the show, however, was Phantoms F Sam Anas.  The ESPN Top Ten list is usually filled with huge names from mostly nationally televised sporting events.  Anas checked in at #7 with his terrific between his own legs move.  The Youngstown Phantoms even got a little PR out of the clip.

It is a good time for the USHL entry from Youngstown.

“I’m extremely happy for both Sean and Jimmy,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “Sean did a great job giving us a chance to win and was steady and calm all weekend. And Jimmy, he scores his first goal Friday and was physical and solid defensively both nights.

The Phantoms return to action Wednesday when they host the Chicago Steel in their annual School Day Game. Puck drop is set for 10 a.m. at the Covelli Centre.

Youngstown’s Willie Nelson To Fight On ESPN Friday

Willie Nelson will get a shot in the arm this Friday on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. Nelson (19-1-1, 11 KO’s) will face Michael Medina at the MGM Grand Foxwoods in Connecticut.  The winner of this fight will get a shot against an elimination match winner with a potential title at stake.

Nelson last fought on September 15, winning a unanimous decision against previously unbeaten John Jackson in Las Vegas, will be representing Youngstown as he has been training at the Southside Boxing Club for just over a year.

Jack Loew calls his latest big-timer a gym rat and says he is very easy to train and will even run, lift, and do the things that some fighters try to sneak out of without supervision or being told to.

“He has had a great training camp”, remarked Loew.  ”He knows what is at stake and is very eager to win.  He had some excellent sparring to get ready for this fight and has faced a few different capable sparring partners to prepare.”

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Loew pointed out that Medina has three losses and two of them are to Vanes Matirosyan and John Duddy.  Matirosyan just fought a draw with Erislandy Lara, who will be in the eliminator fight against a yet-to-be named opponent.

“He is a tough kid who I think will be fighting with a sense of urgency like he knows he has to win this fight.”

If Nelson can win, the #5 ranked WBC light middleweight will vault up to at least #3 in the rankings because one of the fighters in the eliminator match will lose.

YSU Outscored 40-24 In Second Half In Loss To Valpo

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Youngstown State University came out like a ball of fire against league-leading Valparaiso.  After leading by as many as 13 and by seven at the half, YSU was outscored 40-24 in the second half.  Blake Allen knocked down 22, but the Penguins fell 73-64.

With the loss, YSU falls to 16-13 on the season with one game left to play at Wright State on Saturday.  The last regular season game could be played without Kendrick Perry who is still out with a knee injury he suffered at practice last Wednesday.  Perry will be evaluated again before a decision on his status is made.

Valpo got 21 points out of Ryan Broekhoff (below) and 14 more from Kevin Van Wijk on Senior Night.  The Crusaders improved to 23-7 on the season and avenged a loss to the Penguins in Youngstown earlier in the campaign.

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Allen’s 22 points came on 8-16 shooting, including a 4-4 performance from the free throw line.  D. J. Cole poured in 15 points, and Damian Eargle had 12 points to go along with his three blocked shots.

YSU Coach Jerry Slocum knew the visit to Indiana would be a tough one.

“I am sure they [Valparaiso] will be ready for us”, said Slocum after Saturday’s Bracketbuster win.  ”It is Senior Night there and they will be reminded that we beat them here.  They are a great team and it will be a very tough challenge.”

Give the Penguins credit for playing with a lot of heart without one of their most essential ingredients, in Perry, against the Crusaders.

Season finale happens at the Nutter Center on Saturday as the Penguins face Wright State, who also lost on Tuesday night, 60-55, at UIC.  I will be at the game and covering away, check here for results and photos.  Tip off for the final regular season game for 2012-13 is 2 p.m.

YSU Basketball Profiles: Kamren Belin

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He is new to this neck of the woods, but Kamren Belin seems to be fitting in just fine.  Belin, a transfer from the State of Georgia, was recently awarded the Horizon League Player of The Week Award for a second consecutive week.  The versatile Belin has had a great inaugural campaign under Coach Jerry Slocum.  I recently interviewed Belin about many things.

Paneech: You are in Georgia playing basketball, and someone approaches you about transferring to Youngstown State University.  How did the recruiting work?

Belin:  I had to go to a junior college because I didn’t have everything ready for college yet.  I was already in touch with Youngstown State.  I put in two years there to get up to speed, but was in touch with Coach Mike [Wernicki] throughout the process. I came for a visit to this campus after I visited Stephen F. Austin.  There were three more colleges I was scheduled to visit, but I decided this was where I wanted to be.

Paneech:  Your role has changed a lot throughout the season.  You have started and have also been able to provide valuable minutes off of the bench.  Do you have a set role?

Belin:  My role seems to be getting bigger and bigger as each game goes by.  I have tried to assume a leadership role without stepping on any toes.  I think next year is going to be a very good year.  I have gotten to be very good friends with Shawn Amiker but feel a closeness with everyone on the team.

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Paneech:  What are the differences between Youngstown and Georgia?

Belin:  Here, I am much more independent.  I am here by myself and feel like my decisions are my decisions.  I don’t have to wait to hear what my mom has to say and I get to be more of an adult here.  I was in Kansas for juco, but this is even more independent and different than that was.

Paneech:  Coach Slocum gets animated sometimes.  He stamps his feet and gets emotional when he doesn’t like a call.  Damian Eargle can’t hold back from smiling when he sees some of it, how do you stop yourself?

Belin:  It is kind of hard not to laugh.  When it happens, I always happen to see Damian smiling in my line of view.  We know as a team when to contain ourselves.  It’s the same in practice sometimes, things just get taken a little more personal during games.

Paneech:  What is the significance of the endless tattoos on your body?

Belin:  All of my tattoos are in dedication to my family.  My whole right arm is my grandmother and the women in my life, and my left arm is about my brothers.  I got some new work done on my back in honor of the tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  I don’t know what is next, I will probably get all of the shading done on my right arm.

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Paneech:  You keep busy with practices, games, and classes, but there is that time in between that you have.  How do you spend that time?

Belin: My go to would be McDonalds.  It is convenient now because they put one in Kilcawley Center.  I usually get two McChicken sandwiches add cheese and bacon, a small fry, and a vanilla shake.  I’m not a soda drinker, so after practice, I usually go for a light blue Gatorade.

Paneech:  What has been your most memorable ‘on the court’ experience so far?

Belin:  I would say that it really wasn’t anything that happened on the court during a game yet.  So far, the most memorable thing would be boot camp.  You wake up at 5 a.m., struggle to get over here, and then you flip tires and run cone drills.  You sleep good at night.

Paneech:  What kind of things can you focus on after a loss to get back on the winning track?

Belin:  We need to handle pressure better.  It seems like when we lose games that we have a lot of turnovers because of the opponent’s pressure defenses.  Against Detroit, we lost by 41 the first game because we have not seen pressure like that.  When we went there for the second meeting, we handled the pressure better, but not well enough to win.

Paneech:  What is more impressive to you, that Damian Eargle now is the all-time blocks leader in the Horizon League, or that Kendrick Perry has a chance to be the Horizon League Player of The Year?

Belin:  Both of those are impressive things to think about.  I feel like if KP got the player of the year award that it would be something special not only for him, but for all of us as a team.

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Paneech:  What do you want to study and concentrate on while here academically?

Belin:  My major is in Philosophy and my minor is in Sociology, but I might change that minor to creative writing.  One of the things I really enjoy doing is writing poetry. Philosophy helps get me into that type of mindset.  If I wasn’t in college, I would probably be trying to write, or I would be cooking somewhere to make a living.

Paneech:  Have you been late for anything since you got here?

Belin:  (laughs)  Yeah.  I was late for a team meal once.  I did not get to start one game because of it.  The coaches here are very good guys though.  They break things down before we start practicing to make sure we understand the gameplan and they let us have fun but know when to draw the line.

Paneech:  Does your family keep up with YSU hoops?

Belin:  A bunch of family members came to the Georgia game.  They came in for the two games last weekend (see picture above).  They are very supportive and watch how we do.

Paneech:  From the standpoint of a fan, you enjoy making a three point shot.  You put three fingers up to your head.  What is that all about?

Belin:  It is something that one of my favorite players, Carmelo Anthony, does after he hits a three.  So I just kind of took that from him and made it my own.  Blake [Allen] already knows I am coming for his new three-point record.

 

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One Word Answers

Biggest Phobia:  Bugs.

Worst Habit:  Dunkin’ Donuts.

Favorite Junk Food:  Chips Ahoy Chewy.

Song On Your ipod That No One Would Guess:  Over My Head by The Fray.

Favorite Sport Besides Basketball:  Football – Tight End.

Favorite NBA Player:  Rudy Gay.

Who Would Win March Madness if YSU Wasn’t In? Syracuse.

Who Will Exit Early?  North Carolina, they are very overrated.

What Is The Worst Part of Practice:  Full-court layup drills.

 

YSU Stays Perfect In Bracketbuster Home Games With 86-75 Victory Over Central Michigan

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On Senior Night for the YSU Men’s Basketball team, Damian Eargle and Blake Allen took the floor of the Beeghly Center one last time.  The good news was that YSU was 4-0 at home when playing an ESPN Bracketbuster game.  The bad news was that they were 0-5 on the road, so the bad news doesn’t count.  The trend held true as the Penguins coasted to a 86-75 conquest of Central Michigan.

In the first half, Eargle showed no sign of struggling with the mask on.  In fact, he seemed to thrive with it on.  The senior blocked-shot machine collected six quick points in the first six minutes of the game.  He also had a thunderous dunk that the hoop spit back out, but YSU held a thick 20-9 lead with 11:36 left in the first half.

The other inevitable downer of the evening was the Penguins playing without their leading scorer, Kendrick Perry, who suffered a knee injury during a practice that is expected to keep him sidelined until the Horizon League Tournament gets underway.

“KP will be reevaluated biweekly”, said Coach Jerry Slocum after the game.  ”He hurt the knee in practice on Wednesday and I know it isn’t ligaments or an ACL, but beyond that, he will be reevaluated.”

The Penguins had little problems generating offense against Central Michigan and coasted to a 45-27 halftime lead.  The other senior, Blake Allen, picked it up over the last five minutes of the half and poured in eleven first half points for the home team.  Central Michigan got eight points from Kyle Randall, a native of Youngstown.

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The second half started much like the first half ended.  Allen drilled a three on YSU’s first possession and the Penguins were off and running.  The Chippewas cut the lead from 21 to 12 points and trailed 51-39 with 16:18 left to play.

Central Michigan chipped further into the lead before Allen drilled two more three pointers to increase the Penguin lead back to 13 with 13:02 left to play.

YSU held a 12-point lead with just over eight minutes to play, but Randall dribbled through the Penguins as if they were stationary orange cones on his way to  a layup that made the score 66-56.

The Penguins seemed to be softer on defense with the large lead and Central Michigan cut the lead to just seven with 5:13 left.  Kamren Belin and Fletcher Larson hit a couple of big shots for YSU down the stretch to keep the lead bouncing in and out of double digits.

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YSU got a strong final home game from Allen.  The Floridian finished with 20 points.  The other senior, Eargle, had a limited amount of minutes more attributed to fouls than coming back from n injury, but still scored 10 points, 3 rebounds and one blocked shot.  Eargle, who looked more like a masked WWE Superstar than a low post wizard, even hit a pair of free throws down the stretch.

“It meant a lot to me to play my last game here at home”, said Eargle.  ”It was nice to know that the fans appreciate me as much as I appreciated them here through the years.”

Belin had a 20-point night, and a pretty thunderous dunk in the last couple of minutes.  D. J. Cole added eleven caroms for the Penguins.

Central Michigan dropped to 9-17 with the loss.  The Chippewas got 16 points from John Simons in the loss.  The Youngstown native, Randall, finished with 17 points.

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The Penguins (16-12, 8-6) play their last two regular season games on the road at Valparaiso and Wright State.  Barring a disaster in which everything must go wrong for YSU, and everything els must go right for everyone else, the Penguins will be hosting a first-round Horizon League Playoff game.

The win gives the Penguins ten victories at home for the second consecutive year. Prior to last season, no YSU team had ten home wins since the 2006-07 season.

“I wish it was 12 wins instead of 10″, remarked Slocum. “You have to take care of home when you play 16 or 17 games on the road.  The fact that we did that made me very proud of this group.”

“I was very happy for the seniors”, said Slocum.  ”We have been through a lot in the past couple of weeks with injuries to Damian and now KP.  This team has fought and battled and I can’t stress how proud I am of their effort.  There were some late nights trying to figure out how to deal with these injuries for the staff, we feel good about this win.”

YSU Baseball Nips West Virginia To Start Road Trip

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The Youngstown State baseball team scored six straight runs to break open a 4-4 tie and beat West Virginia 10-7 in its first of four games this weekend at Wake Forest on Friday afternoon. The Penguins lost 8-2 to the host Demon Deacons in their second game of the day.

Junior catcher Josh White was 3-for-4 and scored twice, and junior third baseman Drew Dosch scored three times for the Penguins against WVU. The baseball team became the fourth YSU program to beat a team from a BCS conference this season. The football and women’s basketball teams beat Pittsburgh, and the men’s basketball team beat Georgia.

Blake Aquadro allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings in a winning effort over the Mountaineers. Lance Horner and Alex Frey combined to allow two earned runs in four innings of relief.

The Penguins will West Virginia again on Saturday at noon. They’ll wrap up the weekend against Wake Forest on Sunday at noon.

No Eargle, No Problem As Penguins Roll Past Milwaukee

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Youngstown State University, in the midst of a five game homestand, needed to make a statement.  Perhaps their biggest exclamation point, Damian Eargle, would not be a part of it.  Coach Jerry Slocum got big nights out just about everybody and his Penguins rolled over Milwaukee, 94-80, to improve to 15-11, and 7-6 in Horizon League play.

This was not a typical YSU basketball game.  With no Eargle, there was plenty of Fletcher Larson, Josh Chojnacki, and Bobby Hain – and they all contributed.  Perhaps the brightest star of the night for YSU was D. J. Cole.  Slocum has referred to Cole as the ‘silent leader‘ of his team this season.  Cole had his best games of the season pouring in 18 points

YSU took steps throughout the first half in their life after Eargle adaptation.  The Penguins got 15 first half points from Blake Allen who connected on three long-range bombs, but more impressively, showed he can take the ball to the hole a few times.  Kendrick Perry chipped in 14 first half points for the home team.  Milwaukee got 11 points out of Aaron Jordan, but trailed the Penguins, 48-36.

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The Penguins exploded to a 20-point second half lead with just over 13 minutes to play.  Cole hit a couple of threes and the balanced scoring of the rest of the Penguins paced the solid effort.

“It’s about moving the ball around”, said Cole.  ”We got a lot of good shots because we were throwing the extra passes and finding the open guy.”

With 11:27 left, Kamren Belin was fouled and hit one of his two free throws to put the Penguins ahead 72-53.  It should be noted that Belin had a lot of support from family and friends who made the trip from Georgia and Connecticut.  It was nice to see him have a decent game with so many in attendance.

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Perhaps the best indicator that you are having a good night is when Bobby Hain spots up for a long three and drills it like he leads the league in threes.  On the very next possession, Belin forced Milwaukee to take a timeout when he nailed a three to make it 80-55.

“Just a great effort from our team tonight”, said Slocum.  ”We gave these guys two straight days off because of the tough stretch of games we had earlier.  The rest did wonders for us, we came out fresh tonight and made good shots.”

The display of offense was a microcosm of how well the team performed without the top shot blocker in Horizon League history watching from the bench.  One better, the performance was praiseworthy in justifying all of the times that Slocum has been maligned for not using the bench properly.  Other than Allen and Perry, the role players all played a strong role and the bench never looked deeper in the win.

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For the Penguins, Perry (above) spearheaded the offensive fireworks as he poured in 28 points and gathered 5 assists.  Allen finished with 17, and Belin had a quiet 15 points.  The Penguins face Green Bay on Sunday.

Eargle will not play Sunday and will be reevaluated next week.

Milwaukee (6-21, 2-11) got 17 out of Aaron.  Paris Gulley also scored 18 for the Panthers, who are struggling this season.

“Milwaukee could be one of the best teams we will face all year”, declared Slocum.  ”They have a 7’2″ center that is projected to be drafted 15th or 16th.  They have a jet guard, and we really have to shoot the ball well to have a chance to win.

Pregame Events At YSU Special To Many

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Regardless of the outcome of the Milwaukee at Youngstown State University basketball game Friday, 35-40 people had fun.  The YSU Student Athletic Advisory Committee hosted a field day for many Special Olympians.

YSU athletes from several different sports programs showed their hearts in a big way. Kurt Hess was painting faces (above).  Michael Klaus was a bit apprehensive about the makeover but with some urging, yielded to allow Hess to show his creative stroke.

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In another section of the Beeghly Center lobby, there was a game of shuffleboard.  In another area, several were engaged in an arts and crafts session.  There were T-shirts for the participants too.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community”, said Torrian Pace.  ”This is how to be a positive role model and to lift the spirits of people who sometimes get talked down.  It is a special day for the visitors, but all of the student athletes helping out see it as a special day too.”

The event, coordinated by Bre Romeo and Emily Wollet, was a huge success and any casual observer to the game who caught a glimpse of the activities was touched.

Allen Sets YSU Record For Three, But Penguins Fall In Triple OT To UIC

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In the midst of a five-game homestand, perhaps the most crucial stretch of the season for YSU, the Penguins rode Blake Allen into the record book, but failed to hit free throws at critical times in an 88-83, triple overtime loss.

“This is  hard one to take”, said Slocum.  ”We played well enough to win, but poorly enough to lose.  We met the enemy tonight, and the enemy was ourselves.”

The first half was outright sloppy.  YSU was winning 1-0 at the 15:00 mark and trailed 4-3 with eleven minutes to go in the half – neither team was hitting shots.  The Penguins mustered enough offense to take a 19-16 lead to the locker room at the break.

Kamrin Belin hit a couple of threes and a free throw to put up seven first half points for the home team.  Gary Talton posted five first half points for UIC, who as a team managed to shoot 27.5% from the field.  In contrast, YSU shot only 25%.

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In the second half, UIC tied the game at 21 each when Talton drove, hit a bucket, and drew a foul on Blake Allen.  Talton would hit the free throw to give UIC their first lead of the second half at 22-21 with 17:01 left in the game.

Belin seemed like the go-to guy for the Penguins.  After he missed a three, he gathered his own rebound, put up a shot, grabbed that miss and tipped it in while being fouled to tie the game at 25.

The Flames seemed to have a size advantage in the paint with big Josh Crittle (above).   Damian Eargle had his hands full with the bulky low-post presence of Crittle.  Coach Slocum was moving Bobby Hain in and out of the game to deal with Crittle when possible.

A pair of Allen three-pointers put YSU ahead 33-29, but the Flames went back to Crittle in the low post who rumbled to the hoop for an easy deuce.  Allen, however, was feeling it in the second half and posted his third three, this time he was fouled as it dropped.  Allen converted the free throw to put YSU up 37-31 with 11:59 to play.

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Allen set the school record for threes with the make.  The new record of 200 threes made, broke the record of 198 which was held by Craig Haese from 1997-2001.  Currently, Allen ranks second in the Horizon League with 63 three-pointers.

“I am proud of Blake”, said Slocum.  ”He is probably the hardest working player I have ever coached.”

UIC wasn’t having any compassion for the record book and trailed by eight, but managed to tie the game at 68 with 6:52 left to play.  Daniel Barnes completed an old-fashioned three point play for the Flames.

Kendrick Perry (below) hit a big three with just under two minutes left to give YSU a 57-53 lead.  UIC would answer and YSU had the ball back with a two point lead and 44 seconds remaining but failed to get a quality shot.  UIC got the ball back with 19.3 seconds left.  After a couple of timeouts, Talton hit a runner with .8 left in the game to force overtime.

Free throw shooting would spell doom for the Penguins in the overtime.  D. J. Cole had a chance to cut into three-point lead with a pair of free throws, but only made one of two.  Later, Eargle, who finished the game 1-9 from the line missed a pair.

Perry rode in on his white horse to hit a three with .1 seconds to play and force a second overtime.  The junior forward had a hand in his face and was floating right to left in the air when he released the game-tying bomb.

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In the second overtime, Cole drove for a bucket, and then Perry hit a couple of free throws to make it 70-66 with 3:37 left to play.  With just over a minute left to play, Perry hit a couple more free throws, but a UIC three tied the game at 72.  That’s the way the second overtime would end.

In overtime number three, Crittle appeared to pick up his fifth foul, but the refs conferred and said the foul would be charged to Hayden Humes instead.  The reason this was significant was because the Penguins wasted a whole timeout planning something without Crittle around.  Eargle missed both free throws, and then Crittle hit a pair to put UIC on top 78-74.

Perry drove, scored, and got fouled.  With 1:05 left in the game, Perry hit the charity toss to make it a 78-77 UIC lead.  Barnes then hit a dagger three to make it 81-77.  The Penguins would not convert on the next possession and went into foul mode.   On an intentional foul, Eargle appeared to have caught an unintentional elbow that may have broken his nose.

Trailing by four with 16 seconds left, YSU forced a turnover on an inbounds pass but failed to convert and UIC was able to cap the marathon.

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YSU (14-11, 6-6) got 16 points from Allen in his record-setting performance.  Belin had a good offensive game contributing 14 points. Perry raked in 29 points and Eargle had 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals

For UIC, Talton had 23 points, Barnes finished with 20, and Crittle knocked in 18.  With the win, UIC improved to 15-10, 6-6 in league play.