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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.