Posts Tagged ‘Ashen Ward’
The 2011-12 Youngstown State Penguins basketball team exceeded expectations to some degree. Coming off of a winning season with a 16-15 record, the nucleus remains. Head Coach Jerry Slocum has survived some tough times and is now able to reap the benefits of his hard work.
Kendrick Perry, Damian Eargle, and Blake Allen all return for Slocum this season. Ashen Ward and DuShawn Brooks have finished their careers. Perhaps the biggest role to fill this year will be the leader role vacated by Ward.
“Kendrick, Blake, and Damian have all stepped up into leadership roles”, said Slocum. ”They have really raised the bar as to where they want this team to be.”
Slocum often complimented the way Ward was a leader both on and off of the court.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, like last year, the schedule is a mess. Last season YSU only hosted 13 of their 30 games and got to host a playoff game. The fact that they had a winning season, going 10-4 at home, shows how good that team really was.
This year, the schedule was finalized in September. September, 2012. Some of the scheduling problems had a lot to do with Butler leaving the Horizon League.
“We start with five of six on the road this year”, said Slocum. ”I have continually been upset that our kids are put into that situation, and it is going to be an equally tough task this year.”
The season starts on November 10th at George Washington and two nights later in Georgia to face the SEC Bulldogs. After a home game, the Penguins play three games in three days (November 19-21) against North Dakota State, James Madison, and Duquesne. Three of those five teams have been in the NCAA Tournament in the past three years.
In January, the Penguins get to repeat the touring as four of their first five conference games are on the road.
Coach Eric Wolford and some of his football players have been quoted as saying that they have to do things one week at a time, one game at a time. Don’t dwell, don’t gaze forward, just focus on the task at hand.
When asked, Slocum agreed with the theory, and then some.
“We don’t look past our next practice”, said Slocum. ”Whether it is conditioning, shooting, or understanding things, we cannot look a day past or forward. When we work hard, everything takes care of itself, but it is a daily thing for us.”
Kamren Belin, Larry Johnson Jr., Bobby Hain, Ryan Weber, and Ronnye Beamon are all new players in the system. Allen, Perry, and Eargle are joined by Shawn Amiker, DJ Cole, Josh Chojnacki, Danny Reese, Fletcher Larson, and Mike Podolsky to round out the roster.
“We went from 6’6″ and 6’6″ to 6’7″ and 6’10″ at the four sport”, exclaimed Slocum. ”By adding some length, I think we are taking care of rebounding, which was a concern. We are just bigger.”
Bigger expectations too. I will predict the Penguins win 20 games this season. For an exact call, let’s say 20-13, meaning they would play into the third round of their playoffs.
“I don’t sit around wondering which games we will win”, said Slocum. ”Our goal is to be playing the last week of our conference tournament this season. If we play the way I know we can – unselfishly, and do the right things, there is no reason why we can’t be playing that far into the tournament.”
- Youngstown State junior Damian Eargle has been named to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major All-Defensive Team, the website recently announced. Eargle set the Horizon League single-season blocks records for all games and league-games only. Eargle finished with 116 blocks, including 65 in Horizon League play. He also owns the Horizon League career record for blocks in conference play at 122.
- The 6-foot-7 forward led the Horizon League and ranked third in the country with 3.7 blocks per game. Eargle recorded a block in 30 of 31 games last season, had 26 multi-block games and posted at least five blocks on 12 different occasions, including an eight-block performance against UC-Riverside on Nov. 18, 2011. A 2012 Horizon League All-Defensive Team, selection, Eargle averaged 11.1 points per game and grabbed 7.5 rebounds per game.
- Youngstown State men’s basketball Head Coach Jerry Slocum has announced that Kamren Belin (Atlanta, Ga./Walton), 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward, has signed a National Letter-of-Intent to continue his basketball and academic career at Youngstown State University. ”When I visited Youngstown State it just felt right and I really clicked with the players on the court,” Belin said. “It’s a good league and I think we have a chance to do something big.”
- Besides being an outstanding basketball player, coach Jerry Slocum was impressed by Belin as a person. ”We are very excited to have Kamren join our program,” Slocum said. “He is a quality person and a very gifted all-around basketball player.”
Several players were handed some well-deserved postseason accolades. Among the recipients were:
- Sophomore Kendrick Perry, a All-Horizon League First-Team selection, won the Dom Rosselli Coaches Awardfor the team’s most valuable player and also earned the Assists Award. Perry led the team with 121 assists. Perry, who was just the fifth player in league history to lead the league in scoring and steals, led the Guins with 16.8 points per game.
- Senior Ashen Ward, now a wideout for Eric Wolford, who averaged 10.0 points per game, was awarded the Tony Vivo Hustle Award and the Bill Dailey Leadership Award.
- Junior guard Blake Allen, who averaged 12.8 points per game and led the Horizon League with 91 3-pointers made, won the Free-Throw Award with a free-throw percentage of .732.
- Eargle was awarded the Leo Mogus Rebouding Award for leading the team in rebounding with 7.5 rebounds per game. Eargle also led the Horizon League with 121 blocks and was named to the league’s All Defensive Team.
- Sophomore Mike Podolsky, who owns a cumulative grade-point average of 4.0, was the recipient of the Four-Square Club Scholar-Athlete Award.
Congratulations to Coach Slocum and staff and players on a fantastic season!
Youngstown State University did all they could after they sunk into a 24-point first half hole. They cut the lead to ten early in the second half, but could get no closer, ultimately falling, 93-76 to Detroit. Damian Eargle had 25 points to lead all scorers but the defense was not able to contain the Titans arsenal of weaponry.
“There are a lot of tears flowing in that locker room”, said YSU Coach Jerry Slocum. ”This was a very close-knit group of guys who really clicked. I am proud of what they accomplished this season, they worked very hard.”
Detroit came out smoking hot in the first half. That first half saw a 50-point outburst by the Titans. Oddly enough, the Penguins shut down Detroit’s standout guard, Ray McCallum, as he scored only two of the Titans first 25 points. McCallum would get untracked and finished the game with 22.
The Titans held the Penguins long-bombers (Blake Allen and Ashen Ward) in check for most of the 40 minutes. The tandem both averaged double-digits in scoring and were viable three-point options. Detroit held the pair to a combined eight points on 3-11 shooting. The Penguins would bring the ball across mid-court and Detroit would double the point forcing turnovers (YSU committed 15 turnovers in the game).
Detroit shot 60% with McCallum leading the way with 22. Eli Holman had a double-double with 11 points to go with his ten boards. Chase Simon finished with 14, and LaMarcus Lowe chipped in with 13 more. Detroit will face Cleveland State Saturday to see who will advance to the Horizon League Championship game.
For the Penguins, Eargle’s 25 points and seven boards were team-highs. Senior DuShawn Brooks finished with 19 and Kendrick Perry tacked on 18 points.
Congratulations to the Penguins for having a special season and getting the program headed in a positive direction. Coach Slocum and staff have a lot to be proud of for not only the product that they put on the floor, but the quality of people they are recruiting. This was a special bunch of guys who have bright futures. There were some great individual performances, but team was inscribed in all of their hearts more so than any year in Slocum’s tenure.
Finishing 16-15 is a tremendous fete in a very tough Horizon League.
The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will be in action on Friday in the second round of the Horizon League Championships against Detroit at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Ind. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Central Time.
The contest will be available in Youngstown on 570 WKBN beginning with the pregame show at 5:40 p.m. MyYTV will also carry the Horizon League Network’s broadcast live at 6 p.m. The game can be found on TimeWarner Channel 997, Armstrong Channel 13 and 108, Comcast on Channel 3, Direct TV Channel 15 and Over-the-Air Channel 33.2. It is also available on the iHeart Radio App and the HLN Live App as well as being streamed live on the Horizon League’s website.
YSU is advancing to the second round for just the third time in school history. The Penguins reached the second round in 2003 at Milwaukee, Wis., and 2007 at Dayton, Ohio. The winner of the Penguins-Titans game on Friday advances to play No. 2 Cleveland State on the semifinals on Saturday. The Titans and Penguins split the regular season tilts with the visiting team winning at the opposing team’s venue in each game. This tiebreaker, on a neutral site, is worth a lot to a hungry Penguins team that still feels as though it has unfinished business this season.
For the second-round games on Friday, March 2, general admission tickets are $10, while groups of 10-or-more are priced at $7. Horizon League students get seats in their school’s student section free with a valid ID.
Tickets for Friday night’s contests are available by calling the YSU Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978. The other game on Friday evening features fourth-seed Milwaukee against fifth-seeded Butler.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. If the critics had their way, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball program would still be that thing after football season, Jerry Slocum would be collecting unemployment, and nobody should care. Five Horizon League Players of The Week later, the best conference finish since joining the Horizon, and a two-year contract extension for Slocum, YSU got to host a playoff game, and they played like they belonged. The Penguins got balance on offense in eliminating Green Bay and advancing to Valparaiso for the next round of this second season.
“We had a very good practice on Sunday after a very tough loss Saturday”, said Slocum. ”I never saw them so locked in and told them after practice that I was very, very proud of them. You could feel it.”
The Penguins came out smoking hot, shooting 50% in the first half. Kendrick Perry and DuShawn Brooks had twelve points apiece in a very balanced scoring attack. Blake Allen contributed eight more points and picked up six assists as the home team marched out to a 45-34 halftime lead. Green Bay got 11 points from their 7’1″ center, Alec Brown. The Penguins lead was as big as 18 with 8:35 to go in the half, but Green Bay closed the margin when the Penguins finally cooled off a bit.
In the second half, the Penguins kept the big lead and were ahead 60-46 with 11:29 left in the game. Greg Mays hit a layup off of a rebound to keep the Phoenix afloat. Damian Eargle (above), who always plays like a true five in the body of a four, gathered an offensive board and tipped it in to give YSU a 62-49 lead with 9:46 remaining. With 7:36 left in the game, the Penguins were in control of the game with a 66-54 lead.
“I was definitely feeling it in the second half”, remarked Eargle. ”We were definitely pumped up for this game and think we can go deep into this tournament.”
Eargle would score six points in a row for the ‘Guins, four off of offensive rebounds. he then tipped an inbounds pass and had Green Bay reeling, almost singlehandedly, over a five minute stretch of the second half. It then turned into KP Time, as Perry glided to the hoop, hung in the air to draw contact and then casually flipped the ball in for two. Perry hit the free throw to complete the conventional three-point play that gave the Penguins a 71-54 lead with 4:54 remaining in the contest.
From the 4:24 mark on, YSU could concentrate on some clock-killing skills, holding a luxurious 17 point lead, which also ended up being the winning margin.
The Penguins (16-14, 1-0 HL Tourney) got a mammoth effort from Eargle. The sophomore from Waren finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and an assist for good measure. Brooks played well and tacked on 16 points. Allen finished the game with 15 points and 7 assists. Perry had 15 more points for the Penguins.
Green Bay finishes their season with a 15-15 record. Brown had 20 points to lead the Phoneix.
Next up for YSU is a rematch with Detroit. The Penguins will face the Titans in the early game of a doubleheader at Valparaiso Friday evening. The two teams split wins in a couple of tightly contested games during the regular season.
Youngstown State University had learned that they had clinched a home playoff game, but wanted to roll into that contest with momentum. Standing in the way of the Penguins to accomplish that fete were the Detroit Titans. The Titans brought their A game and handed the Penguins a 76-74 loss to end the regular season.
In the first half, the Penguins started fast but as the game went, seemingly so did the momentum. The Penguins had a five point lead with 15:03 left to play in the first half. By the time the buzzer sounded to signify the end of the opening stanza, it was Detroit that held a 36-32 lead. The Titans got 11 points out of Ray McCallum and nine more from Chase Simon. The Penguins got a good half out of Blake Allen who had ten first-half points. Detroit created some matchup problems in the paint for the Penguins using an extreme size advantage in the paint.
The second half saw Detroit start strong and continue dominating the inside. The Penguins were down ten with about ten to play, then cut it to down five with five to play. Kendrick Perry kept penetrating in the last few minutes of the game and drawing contact. Two Perry free throws shrunk the lead to two with a minute to play, but the Penguins would get no closer.
YSU (15-15, 10-9) got 23 from Perry and DuShawn Brooks and Allen had 13 points each. Damian Eargle had 11 points to go with seven rebounds but failed to block a shot for YSU.
Detroit (19-13, 12-7) is a very big and physical team that could make some noise in the tournament. The Titans got 18 from Chase, 15 from McCallum and are tough to beat, as any team would be, shooting 55% from the field.
Brooks and Ashen Ward were honored as the seniors playing in their last home game before this one tipped off. They will have another home game anyway when they host a first round tournament game on Tuesday.
When Youngstown State played Wright State the first time this season, the Raiders came away with a 63-62 thriller that the Penguins were ahead by 15 in and thought they should have won. Furthermore, the Penguins had lost their last nine to Wright State. The Penguins got a great game out of Kendrick Perry who collected 23 points in a 61-54 win. The Penguins solidified their chances of a home game in the first round of the Horizon League playoffs with the triumph.
“We knew Wright State was capable”, said Perry. ”We were up 15 at their place and lost. This time we kept our foot on the gas and stayed hungry.”
Things are very different this season. After Damian Eargle missed the front end of a one-and-one at a crucial time late in the second half, Penguin Coach, Jerry Slocum, clapped and encouraged Eargle to put it behind him and keep battling. The Penguins made a defensive stop and scored the next time up the court.
In the first half, the Penguins and Raiders both looked a little sluggish on offense or decent on defense, just depends on how you want to perceive it. Neither team shot better than 40% from the floor and nobody had a lead larger than four points. Kendrick Perry had nine points to lead the Penguins in scoring. Damian Eargle had three blocks to build on his league-lead to go with six first-half points. Wright State was paced by Kendall Griffin who had nine and Vance Hall contributed eight more as the Raiders took a 29-27 lead at the break.
“In the first half, quite frankly, we made some coaching errors”, said Slocum. ”We doubled the post and shouldn’t of. Our guys were able to battle back and made some really big stops in the second half. Our defense created offensive chances for us.”
KP (above) took over early in the second half with a couple of threes, a fast-break layup-and-one, and a steal to punctuate YSU opening the second half with a 16-5 run to open a 45-34 lead with 15:01 remaining. A DuShawn Brooks baseline drive and a nice feed from Ashen Ward to Blake Allen pushed the lead to ten points at 49-39 with 12:18 left to play.
Wright State cut the lead to 49-42 on a tip-in with 8:03 remaining forcing Coach Slocum to burn a quick timeout to regroup. Reggie Arceneaux hit a three to pull Wright State within four at 51-47, but Eargle hit a dunk and then a pair of free throws to give YSU a 55-47 lead with 5:41 to play. Allen got a nice feed on a Perry steal and layed it in to put the ‘Guins back up by 10 with 5:07 left in the game.
Wright State wouldn’t go away as Arceneaux hit a pair of charity tosses with 3:37 left to cut the YSU lead to 57-53. Perry stayed hot nailing a pair of free throws to keep YSU ahead comfortably at 61-54 with 30 seconds to play.
The Penguins improved to 15-13 and 10-7 in the Horizon League. With that tenth league win, YSU has their highest Horizon League win total ever. Perry looked like a player-of-the-year candidate from wire to wire in this one. The sophomore finished the game with 23 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 rebounds. Eargle big again finishing with 8 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
The five blocked shots by Eargle set a couple of records. His 113 on the season are a single-season record. His 65 in Horizon League play mark a new conference record.
Coach Slocum commented on Eargle’s fete. ”Damian has had a tremendous year for us on the defensive end. It is not something that we can coach. It is just natural God-given ability and his timing is unreal. Every time a game is tight, he has an ability to come up with a big block for us.”
Wright State got 13 points from Hall and another 9 from Griffin. Probable Horizon League Newcomer-of-The -Year Julius Mays finished the contest with 7. The Raiders dropped to 13-17 and 7-10 in the Horizon.
He can jump, he can shoot, he can dunk, and he can ball. He’s Kendrick Perry, one of the reasons that Youngstown State’s basketball team has turned a corner this season. Perry has another gear, the ability to change his motion in mid-air, and is a very exciting and talented commodity. The strangest thing about the sophomore guard from Florida is the fact that he remains humble. He plays on a team with guys he considers his family. He is the best guard in the Horizon League and is inching closer to Player of The Year possibilities with each game on a team that remains hungry.
Paneech: What steps were taken to get you here from Florida?
Perry: In high school, my coach at that time, mentioned Youngstown State. At the time, I had my mind set on Florida or Florida State, some of the bigger schools. Throughout high school, YSU stayed with me and kept me on their radar. Before my senior year of high school started, I went on my visit and committed before the season started. Coach Wernicki and Coach Slocum were the two main guys that were instrumental in recruiting me.
Paneech: You are losing a couple of guys when this season is over in Ashen Ward and DuShawn Brooks. What have you learned from them?
Perry: I have learned a lot from them. Ash has shown great leadership both on and off the court. First one in the gym and the last one to leave. He does all of the talking and the little things that make us a better team. I can take that from him. DB gives us a good spark when we need it. Whether it is offensive rebounds, making the right pass, or just making shots, he has been a spark in big games when we need it. Ash is my best friend on the team. He took me under his wing when I was recruited and made me his little brother.
Paneech: You had some losses you maybe should have won this season. Which of those would you take back and do over if you could?
Perry: That’s a tough one. I really can’t just pick one because there are more than one of those games where we beat ourselves. If I had to pick one though, I would say the UIC game or the Butler game. Every game counts as much as the next and they are losses. The important thing is that we have grown from those games.
Paneech: Coach Slocum and the staff have my respect because of the way they work you guys. When you are around him so much, do you get used to his style?
Perry: I don’t think it is really that hard. It takes some time to adjust. Nobody wants to make a mistake, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. Coach Slocum will let you know two different ways – and if you make the same mistake again, be ready for it because he will get on you for it. As a person, he does his best to make sure that everyone is in tune. Some guys he talks lightly to, others he can be more aggressive with. He knows when he does that, he is sending the message to get in tune, to be more focused and play better as a team.
Paneech: You are losing a couple of good players, and this season is not over yet, by any means. Take a gander forward and tell me what to expect next season.
Perry: I see a lot of guys coming back and trying to get better. Shawn [Amiker] has really improved, Josh [Chojnacki] and Fletch [Fletcher Larson] have gotten better, and Mike Podolsky has probably shown the most improvement along with DJ [Cole]. Ash and DB give us a lot and we are going to need guys to step up and fill those roles. I think we have a good recruiting class coming in too. It’s a bunch of hungry guys who want to get better.
Paneech: I will always remember last year at Akron. You drove a crowded lane and dunked over a much bigger player. Do you envision your finish when driving or do you create once you leave the ground?
Perry: I think it is just natural God-given ability. I try to have the mindset to play aggressively each game. What goes through my mind trickles its way through my whole body, so it is a mental thing. My athleticism catches people off-guard. If I am getting chased on a fast break, the person chasing me is thinking about getting an easy block. Most of the time it isn’t. I like that underdog feeling, where I can rise up and use an extra spurt of confidence to get it done.
Paneech: Big difference between Youngstown and Florida. Besides the weather, what is different here?
Perry: The biggest thing would probably be a car, honestly. In Florida, I have a car, whereas here, I have to rely on guys who have cars to get me places. It seems like I am eating Taco Bell or McDonalds every day when I can’t get a ride out. It is a different culture but it is diverse like Florida, young and old, different races.
Paneech: So you get in the car with a friend and head toward Boardman. Where are you going to eat?
Perry: (laughs) That would depend on how much money I have in my pockets. I have $50, we are going to the Springfield Grill or Red Lobster. If I have $5, we are going to Burger King or McDonalds, I’m not that picky of an eater. That $5 will get me a 20 piece chicken nuggets and extra barbecue sauce. It’s a sacrifice (laughs), a sacrifice I gotta make. When I came on my visit though, I had Niccolini’s, and that was really good and when I helped recruit DJ, I had Springfield Grill, so its about 50/50 on those two places.
Paneech: If not basketball, what sport would Kendrick Perry be playing?
Perry: Soccer. Definitely. My brother plays professionally for the Columbus Crew. Growing up, it was soccer or basketball for both of us. He stuck with soccer, and it got him somewhere he wanted to be. I stuck with basketball and so far, I am where I want to be.
Paneech: Does your family get to some of the games?
Perry: Yeah, they try. They came to Samford for the opener last year. My mother does a good job of following our games and always is able to find a feed online whether it be the Horizon League Network or the opposing teams site, she will find it. She always tells me about what she saw me do after the games, and they really do a good job staying on top of it.
Paneech: Is this home now or are you on the first bus back to Florida when you graduate?
Perry: I have definitely made a lot of friends and connections here. That snow though? I can’t take that… I would rather deal with the 55 degrees in Florida over the 25 degrees here. I could see myself being here because of all of the relationships I have made while I was here. It’s all different though when you look at college. You have to learn better time management. A teacher can tell you that you have a 20 page paper due at the beginning of the semester, and you have to be on top of what you are trying to do within your classes.
Paneech: NBA. Florida. Heat fan?
Perry: I do like the Heat. I grew up in Orlando, so I have this love-hate thing for the Magic. My go-to team is the Oklahoma City Thunder and Durant and Westbrook. I like their athleticism, they are young, and they bring the energy. They are a very dangerous team and I like watching them. Lebron is probably the next Jordan, but I don’t think he will ever come back to Cleveland. He can win multiple championships with his best friend Wade and the talent they have.
Paneech: If there are no sports on television, what are you watching?
Perry: I watch cartoons, I’m not gonna lie. Not Sponge Bob and all that. I watch the Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad. My favorite cartoon though, is called Archer. It’s a spy cartoon, me and my brother call each other and talk about it and joke about the lines.
Paneech: Who is a bigger team jokester, Eargle or Burkey?
Perry: (laughs) Ohhh, that’s a tough one. I would say Damian, because it is non-stop with him. Burkey knows how to turn it on and turn it off. With Damian though, it’s just non-stop, 24/7, first thing in the morning until the end of the day.
One Word Answers
Favorite Color: Red.
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Lucky Charms.
Favorite Drink After The Game: Red Gatorade.
Favorite Movie: He’s Got Game.
Song On Your ipod That Nobody Would Expect: Jill Scott, some of that soulful stuff from my mother.
Sport To Watch: Football.
Favorite Snack Food: I could go on for days… picking one – Fruit Roll-Ups, any flavor.
Biggest Phobia: Lizards.
Worst Habit: Cracking My Knuckles.
“I will stay with the sport of basketball and I am going to keep going until I can’t play anymore. Hopefully, the good college education I am receiving will line up the next part of my life and new career.”
If Jerry Slocum would go to Sam’s Club, he might buy as much consistency as he can find. Slocum’s multi-talented Penguin team played one of their worst games of the season against Butler Thursday, and to their credit, played one of their best games of the season against league-leading Valparaiso. DuShawn Brooks and Kendrick Perry spearheaded a very balanced offensive effort as the Penguins knocked off the Crusaders, 71-53.
“We played with great energy tonight”, said Coach Slocum. ”We were embarrassed after Butler but we were able to regroup. These were two of the top teams in the league here this week and I am really proud of our character in bounce-back games. We lose a game and then bounce back to beat Milwaukee. We lose to Butler Thursday and bounce back to beat Valpo tonight. I am really proud of their character.”
In the first half, YSU was coasting on offense, but the story behind a 32-20 halftime lead was the defense the Penguins played. It doesn’t show up well on the stat sheets, but the Penguins derailed the Crusaders perimeter shooting, daring Valpo center, Richie Edwards, to shoot open threes. Offensively, the Penguins got 14 from Brooks and 11 from Perry in the opening stanza.
In the second half, the Penguins gave up a couple of early buckets as Valpo cut the lead to seven, but YSU stabilized the defense and took a commanding 51-34 lead when Perry was fouled shooting a three for the second time in the second half. Valpo plyed the game without their best player, Kevin Van Wijk, who probably would have made the score closer, but surely would not have been able to compensate the entire difference.
With 7:20 left in the game, the only thing left to figure out was when Jerry Slocum would unload the bench as YSU had a 55-41 lead. The Penguins continued to dominate the action as well as dictate the pace of the game. Perry stayed red-hot as he hit a three that pushed the lead to 59-44 with 6:11 to go. That happened with about 2:30 left in the game. Bench players like Chris Morgan were able to score and get a nice game-playing experience.
YSU (14-11, 9-6) got 23 points from Kendrick Perry. The reigning Horizon League Player of The Week was 3-5 from three, 8-10 from the free throw line, had 4 rebounds and 3 assists. DuShawn Brooks had his shooting stroke going as he deposited 20 points.
“Coach said we needed to rebound and play defense to win the game”, said Brooks.
Valpo (18-9, 11-4) got 19 from Edwards and 12 from Broekhoff, who also gathered 11 rebounds for the visiting Crusaders. Valpo heads back to work with a home game against UIC on Tuesday. With Butler beating Cleveland State earlier in the day and YSU knocking off the Crusaders, the Horizon League race seems to really be tightening up.
The Penguins go on the road for games against Green Bay on the 14th and the ESPN BracketBuster game against Austin Peay at a site to still be determined.
After a tough loss in Detroit, Butler needed to make a statement to turn their season around. The Bulldogs came out barking, owning the paint, denying the perimeter, and dominating every phase of their matchup against YSU on Thursday. The Penguins trailed by double digits most of the game, cut the Bulldog lead to four in the second half, but couldn’t get any closer, falling 68-59, to fall into a third place tie with the Bulldogs in the Horizon League standings.
In the first half, the Penguins went over thirteen minutes without scoring a field goal. You cannot win a basketball game when you are unable to score. Butler held a 35-25 lead at the half thanks in part to balance. Nine Bulldogs scored at least a point in the opening session. Leading the way was Ronald Nored with five. Youngstown State got six points from both Kendrick Perry and Blake Allen. However, the Penguins went only 2-9 from deep range, which they rely heavily upon.
“I thought that our defensive effort was really solid in the first half”, remarked Brad Stevens. ”We wanted to jump out there and take their three-point shooters out of the game and we did a really good job with that tonight.”
YSU Coach Jerry Slocum agreed. ”It was as bad of a first half as we have played all year. This is the second time at home that we could not focus or play with the proper intensity.”
In the second half, YSU went down 14 early but roared back on a pair of buckets from Ashen Ward and Perry to cut the Butler lead to 40-34 with 13:28 left in the game. Perry then ran the floor on a break and used a nice hesitation move to put in a two-pointer that saw the Penguins down only four, at 40-36 with 12:18 left.
“It was the exact same sore with the exact same amount of time last as last year’s game when we had the eight point lead”, said Butler Coach Brad Stevens. ”I coached as hard as I could to avoid any letdown like last year, and the guys responded and held the lead.”
Roosevelt Jones and Nored hit buckets to stretch the lead back to eight at around the ten minute mark. Butler was setting up a half court offense and then going into a three-man weave ,a la the Harlem Globetrotters. Trailing 47-40, Perry swished a three with 8:24 left in the game. Butler just kept attacking the hoop or shooting the three with no comfortable medium.
Butler pushed the lead back to eight on a charity toss by Jones, but Perry connected quick from the other end to make it a 51-45 game. Chrishawn Hawkins nabbed a three-point play the old-fashioned way with 4:54 remaining and tacked in a two from close range and Butler looked poise to hold their lead, now ahead 59-47. Damian Eargle (above) tried to get YSU back in the game as he was fouled while scoring, but typical of the night, he missed the free throw to leave it at 59-49 in favor of the visiting Bulldogs.
Butler got good offensive production out of Hopkins, who finished the game with 19 points. Nored had a very good game for the Bulldogs as he finished with 8 markers, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Jackson Aldridge chipped in 14 more points.
Youngstown State got 21 from Perry, 11 from Eargle, and 10 from Ward. The loss puts YSU at 13-11, and 8-6 in Horizon League play. Nothing gets easier for the Penguins as Valparaiso comes to town Saturday night.
“I think Valpo is the best team in the league”, said Slocum. ”I knew we were in for a challenging week. We played well on the road and were really focused, and that was definitely not the case tonight.”