Posts Tagged ‘Ashen Ward’

Why The Butler Game Means So Much To YSU Basketball

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Rewind your brain a year. Playground bully Butler came to Youngstown State to continue their dominance over a school that had a reputation for football prominence, and little basketball hardware to show off.  The Penguins trailed the Bulldogs by eight points before eventually clawing their way back to claim a dramatic and emotional 62-60 win in front of a good crowd last season.  The win was significant in many ways.

First off, it is a well-known fact that Butler did not lose another game until the NCAA Championship Game loss.   But seeded in deeper meaning, that historic win allowed Coach Jerry Slocum to be a better recruiter.  To knock on a door while recruiting with a Butler win in your briefcase usually gets you invited in.  The ramifications of that win will be louder in a couple of years when Fletcher Larson, DJ Cole, and Cale Zuiker hit stride.

Cleveland State rolled into town last Saturday and embarrassed the Penguins in front of a huge audience.  Don’t think the players and coaches have not been chomping at the bit waiting for the chance for redemption in front of a big assembly of fan support this time.  Coach Slocum said after the 20-point setback that his team was not able to handle the moment.  The moment will be just as important, and this team should bounce back.

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The puzzle has been coming together since that significant Butler win.  The Penguins had zero players given any preseason accolades, the team was finished to pick in the bottom third, again, and with schools, like Butler, losing so much, it was easy to predict that these Penguins would be in the thick of things heading into the home stretch of the season.

Five Horizon League Players of The Week later, Slocum could be considered for Coach of The Year with the dramatic turnaround.  He will need a strong run to close out the season and says that every game left on the schedule will be a dogfight.

“We have a stretch of three weeks where everyone we play is really good”, said Slocum.  ”we have to keep preparing and getting better.”

“Butler will come in hungry after a tough one in Detroit.  This is where the turnaround started for them last year and they will come in here fired up.”

Ironic that virtually nobody would have said at the beginning of the season that Butler needed to win this game to catch YSU with a handful of games left in the regular season.  However, that is the reality.  Five starters have been recognized for their fantastic efforts, a fete never before accomplished in Horizon League history.  It may be the confidence bump this team of Penguins need for a strong stretch run and into March.

Kendrick Perry Named Horizon League Player of The Week

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Youngstown State sophomore Kendrick Perry (Ocoee, Fla.) has been Horizon League Player of the Week for Feb. 6, the Horizon League announced on Monday. Perry led the Penguins (13-10, 8-5 Horizon) to a 2-1 road record last week, averaging 25.7 points, 4.0 assists and 3.7 steals per game while shooting 60 percent from the field.

This is the first player-of-the week award of Perry’s career and it marks the first time in Horizon League history and YSU history five different players from one school have earned the accolade. Earlier this season, senior DuShawn Brooks (Dec. 5), junior Damian Eargle (Jan. 2), senior Ashen Ward (Jan. 9) and junior Blake Allen (Jan. 23) all garnered the award.

Coach Jerry Slocum talked about the accomplishment of having five players from his team given the award.  ”I am very happy for those guys.  It speaks well of how much they have improved and have worked very hard to get better.  They have committed to all of the hard work and they deserve what they are getting.”

Perry scored a career-high 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, including four 3-pointers, and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line. He also dished out four assists and had two steals.  His 30-point effort was the first since DeAndre Mays scored 30 points against Loyola on Jan. 9, 2010. He is also the first sophomore to score at least 30 points since Mike Alcorn scored 35 against Pitt-Bradford on Feb. 24, 1992.

In the 72-68 loss at UIC, which was the Penguins third game in six days, Perry scored 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. He almost rallied YSU to a frantic comeback scoring eight points in 35 seconds to cut a nine-point deficit down to two.

Perry connected on 11-of-14 from the field with two 3-pointers for a game-high 28 points in an 80-63 win over Loyola. He also dished out six assists and collected a career-high seven steals against the Ramblers.  He is the first player to record at least six steals in a game since Marlon Williamson tallied six against UMKC on Dec. 21, 2002.

With 11 steals on the week, Perry set a new Youngstown State sophomore record with 56 on the year. The total is the second-best single-season mark in school history, trailing only the 64 of Marlon Williamson in 2002-03. Perry’s 2.4 spg ranks second in the Horizon League, while the point guard ranks second in scoring (15.7 ppg), third in assists (4.1 apg) and first in assist-turnover ratio (2.2).

This is quite an accomplishment for the team picked to finish seventh by the Horizon League voters.  YSU hosts Butler this Thursday with the tipoff set for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be carried on the ESPN3 internetwork.

YSU Men Bounce Back To Beat Milwaukee, 73-65, Behind Kendrick Perry’s 30

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Sophomore Kendrick Perry scored a career-high 30 points and led the Youngstown State men’s basketball team to a 73-65 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday evening at U.S. Cellular Arena.  Perry, who connected on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor and made four 3-pointers, is the first player to score 30 points since DeAndre Mays scored 30 in 2010 and the first sophomore to score at least 30 points since Mike Alcorn posted 35 points in 1992.

Senior DuShawn Brooks and junior Damian Eargle each scored 14 points while senior Ashen Ward grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.  With the win, the Guins improve to 12-9 overall and 7-4 in the Horizon Leauge and move into sole possession of third place in the league standings.

The 12 wins are the most since the 14 victories in 2006-07 and the seven league victories match a team high since joining the league in 2001-02. The Penguins won seven league games in 2006-07 and in 2008-09.

The Panthers led by one, 24-23, with five minutes left in the first half, but a 3-pointer by Nate Perry, a triple by Ward, and another 3-pointer by Nate Perry sparked a 9-0 run and put the Guins up, 32-24, with 2:53 to go.  Kendrick Perry, who scored 16 of his 30 points in the second half, canned three straight free throws to put the Guins up nine, 35-26, before a Paris Gulley tip-in with one second left cut the Penguins lead to 35-27 at the half.

YSU began the second half on an 8-2 run to built its lead to 13 points, 43-30, after a layup by Fletcher Larson with 17:12 to go.  After the Panthers cut the deficit to nine, Brooks, who scored 11 points in the second half, started an 13-5 run with a 3-pointer and ended it with a layup to give the Guins an 18-point lead, 61-43, with 6:48 remaining.  Milwaukee whittled the lead down to six, 67-61, with 1:55 to go, but two free throws by Perry, a dunk and two free throws by Eargle sealed the game for the Penguins.

YSU will continue their three-game road trip against UIC, Thursday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in Chicago, Ill.

YSU Men To Face Austin Peay In BracketBusters Game

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The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will visit Ohio Valley Conference member Austin Peay in the 2012 Sears BracketBusters announced on Monday evening.

The Penguins (11-9, 6-4 Horizon) and Governors (9-14, 6-4 OVC) have met 14 times while the Guins were members of the OVC, but have not faced each other since 1988.  Youngstown State owns an 8-6 advantage in the all-time series but the Governors have won the last four meetings.  YSU has not won in Clarksville, Tenn., since a 62-57 victory on Feb. 16, 1984.

The Penguins own a 4-4 record in BracketBusters games and are 1-0 against the Ohio Valley Conference, defeating Eastern Kentucky, 66-61, on Feb. 17, 2007.

Dates and times for the game will be announced at a later date, but the location is set, as well as the matchup.

YSU Men Hit The Road For A Few

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The Youngstown State men’s basketball team (11-9, 6-4 Horizon League) embarks on its longest trek of the season – a seven-day, three-game road trip – when it visits Milwaukee, Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast on 570 WKBN-AM.

This is the 31st meeting between Youngstown State and Milwaukee in an all-time series that dates back to 1972. Milwaukee leads the series 24-6. The Guins snapped a four-game losing streak to the Panthers with a 68-66 win on Jan. 20 at the Beeghly Center. The last time the Penguins won in Milwaukee was a 68-65 win on Dec. 10, 2006. The last time YSU swept the season series against Milwaukee was during the 2006-07 season.

After Milwaukee, the Penguins travel to UIC for a Thursday night game.  The road trip ends on Sunday with a game at Loyola which tips off at 2 p.m.

If the Penguins are to have any shot at winning the Horizon League, they need to win at least two out of these three games as Butler and Valparaiso loom next week for a pair of big home games.

Cleveland State Cruises Past Cold-Shooting Youngstown State, 67-47

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In front of the fourth largest crowd in the history of the Beeghly Center (6,311), Youngstown State couldn’t get synchronized and fell to Cleveland State, 67-47.  The Vikings played great defense and the Penguins, as Coach Jerry Slocum said at the post-game press conference, ‘self-imploded’.  The Penguins struggled mightily from behind the arc in this one, going 4-24.

“We got beat in every facet of this game tonight”, said Slocum.  ”I don’t think we handled the moment very well.  We played outside of our basketball IQ and they didn’t play any different than they did the first time.”

In the first half, things were tight with Cleveland State holding a 15-12 lead with eight minutes played.  The Vikings would close out the half with a 26-7 run to establish a commanding 41-19 lead at the half.  Cleveland State applied full-court pressure almost the entire first half, which didn’t seem to bother YSU as much as the Penguins struggling to run their normal half-court sets in half the time.

Only five Penguins, the starters, (Damian Eargle, Ashen Ward, DuShawn Brooks, Kendrick Perry and Blake Allen) scored in the first half.  The Penguins were a dismal 2-14 from behind the arc.  Conversely, Cleveland State was hot, nailing 6-8 long balls.  Trevon Harmon and Anton Grady had nine and eight points respectively for the Vikings in the first half.

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In the second half, Cleveland State kept their foot on the gas pedal.  With 11:28 to go in the contest, the Vikings were firmly in control of the game with a 56-35 lead.  The tremendous half-court defense of the Vikings was forcing YSU into taking a lot of shots they normally would not.  The game would also evolve into a very physical battle with plenty of hard fouls, pushing, and shoving.

YSU sliced the CSU lead to 17 when Kendrick Perry hit a ten-footer to make it a 58-41 game with 7:17 remaining. The Vikings were able to weather the storm and recover before Slocum emptied the YSU bench with about three minutes to play.

“Our big wins did not make our year”, remarked Slocum.  ”Last week when we beat Milwaukee, I told you that it would not make our year.  This loss will not break our year.  Give them credit, they are a very good team, but our play tonight didn’t help our chances.”

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Cleveland State (18-4, 8-2) got 10 points from Harmon, 8 each from Pogue and Charlie Lee, and Anton Grady had a big night scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 boards.  The Vikings clamped a stronger grip on first place in the Horizon League with the win.  Furthermore, the Vikings nullified YSU’s win earlier this season at Cleveland State.

“We came in with a chip on our shoulder”, said the Vikings Jeremy Montgomery.  ”We knew we had to stay focused on defense and keep the pressure on to shake things up.  Our full-court pressure forced them into quicker sets and that is what we drew up for this game.”

YSU, suffering one of their poorest shooting efforts of the season, got 11 points from  Allen, and ten each from Perry and Eargle.  Eargle also recorded five blocks in the contest.  The Penguins slipped to 11-9, and 6-4 in the Horizon League.

Youngstown State hits the road to face Loyola, UIC, and Milwaukee.

Blake Allen Is Horizon League Player Of The Week

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Youngstown State junior guard Blake Allen (Tampa, Fla.) has been named the Horizon League Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday morning. He also garned player-of-the-week honors from CollegeSportsMadness.com

The accolade is the first of Allen’s career, and he helps Youngstown State become the first men’s basketball team to have four different players of the week in one season since Loyola in 1984-85.  Kendrick Perry is the lone starter not to get the award, and he is very capable to explode at anytime.  Record setting stuff here!

Allen joins DuShawn Brooks (Dec. 5), Damian Eargle (Jan. 2) and Ashen Ward (Jan. 9) as Penguins who have collected player of the week honors.

Last week, Allen averaged 21.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game and led the Guins to a 2-0 record, including a 68-66 win over then-Horizon League Leader Milwaukee and YSU’s first 30-point Horizon League victory, 77-47, over Green Bay.

Overall Allen shot 75 percent (12-of-16) from the field, 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from 3-point range and 81.8 percent (9-of-11) from the free-throw line.  He scored a career-high 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and matched a career best with seven 3-pointers against the Panthers.  Against Green Bay, Allen scored a game-high 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and made three 3-pointers.

Youngstown State (11-8, 6-3 Horizon) will have a chance to sweep the season series from Cleveland State (17-4, 7-2 Horizon) on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Penguins host the Vikings. The Horizon League Network will have live coverage, beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Penguins Record 77-47 Win Over Green Bay Marking Largest Ever Horizon Margin

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Youngstown State University is turning into a home game winning juggernaut.  After years of struggling to compete in the Horizon League at home, on the road, in the Giant Eagle parking lot on 224, or at a neutral site, the Penguins have finally hit stride in the comfort of the Beeghly Center.  Sunday afternoon, the train kept rolling as the Penguins disposed of Green Bay, 77-47, with little resistance.  The win was the largest ever conference margin of victory (30 points), previously 25, for the Penguins.

“We were up by 13 at the half”, said Jerry Slocum.  ”The maturation of this team has to be to put the hammer down when they get the chance to.  Coming out to start the second half, we were up 14, and it went from 14 to 20.  Our guys seized the moment with their defensive play.”

In the first half, the Phoenix held a two point lead a minute into the contest, it would be their largest and final lead of the day.  Youngstown State used an array of weapons to compile a lead as big as 18 points in the half, and eventually settled on a 38-25 margin at the break.  Blake Allen continued to produce for YSU, knocking down ten points to lead all scorers.  Kendrick Perry contributed eight and DuShawn Brooks six more to punctuate a strong half on both ends of the court for the Guins.  Coach Jerry Slocum had the luxury of using his bench frequently as eight different Penguins scored in the opening half.

“It’s a growing point and we talked at halftime about finishing”, said Perry.  ”We preach about taking care of home court and I feel we are doing a good job of that this year.”

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In the second half, the Penguins did something they have had trouble with in the recent past, holding a large lead.  Through the first five minutes of the second half, YSU outscored the Phoenix, 11-7, to maintain the double-digit margin.    At the 13:55 mark of the half, the Penguins held a 51-35 advantage.  Slocum was very careful not to mass-substitute at any point always having three starters on the court while getting Shawn Amiker (above), Josh Chojnacki, Nate Perry, D J Cole, and Fletcher Larson, were able to log some valuable game minutes with various combinations of the starting five.

In between the substitutions, the glue (starting five) of the Penguins kept everything tight.  Brooks was hitting threes, Ashen Ward was hustling and getting the dirty work done, and Allen and Perry did a good job working both the shot clock, and the Green Bay defense.  With 8:43 left in the game, the Penguins held a 67-43 lead.  The other Perry, Nate, hit a couple of threes to stockpile the lead to 70-45 with 7:38 remaining.

“I wanted to bring guys in to get them time with the ones”, said Slocum.  ”Someone looked over at me and said we were up by 25.  I didn’t really care about the score as much as I did getting the bench some time to battle.  The bench players did a good job defensively for us.”

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With the loss, Green Bay dipped to 3-6 in Horizon League play.  The Phoenix got XX points from Alec Brown and X rebounds from Kam Cerroni.

Youngstown State (11-8, 6-3) got 16 from Allen, 15 from Kendrick Perry, 12 from Ward, 12 from Brooks, and six from Eargle.  Eargle also had 8 rebounds and continued his streak of recording a block in every game this season early on, adding a few more to his record-nearing total.  Noteworthy in the victory was the good play Slocum got out of his bench, Nate Perry and Amiker are starting to look more confident each time they enter a game regardless of the situation or score.

The Penguins welcome Cleveland State Saturday as part of a doubleheader, which will start a half hour after the YSU women’s game that tips at 4:30 p.m.

YSU Knocks Off First Place Milwaukee, 68-66, To Tighten Horizon Up

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Many things rolled into Youngstown on Friday.  There was some nasty Winter weather making it a great night for basketball, and the good turnout of fans at the Beeghly Center were treated to a very exciting basketball game.  Milwaukee rolled into town at 6-1 flying solo atop the Horizon League standings.  ESPN also rolled in as the game aired on ESPN3.  When the smoke cleared, the Penguins stayed in the race with a thrilling 68-66 win behind a career-best 27 points from junior Blake Allen.

“I thought we battled”, said Coach Jerry Slocum.  ”We told the kids at halftime to stay up and expect Williams to play more minutes.  We also told the guys not to panic.”

In the first half, the Penguins showed their heart and determination.  Five minutes into the game, the Penguins found themselves in an 18-13 hole.  Despite the early offensive woes, Blake Allen (above) heated up scoring 22 first half points, going 6-6 from three-point range.  Allen absolutely caught fire and hoisted the Penguins to a 41-30 halftime lead.  The Penguins were doing a good job from a Goliath standpoint.  Despite being outsized, YSU was hustling and scrapping for rebounds on both ends of the floor.  Damian Eargle battled through a sore right wrist to post eight points, four boards and a pair of blocks in the opening session.

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In the second half, Milwaukee closed the margin quickly.  Allen hit his career-best tying three and Kendrick Perry and Eargle had back-to-back breakaway dunks to put YSU ahead 51-41 with just over twelve minutes to play.  With YSU ahead 54-42, Milwaukee’s Ryan Allen hit for two and the  Paris Gulley connected on a pair of free throws to make it 54-48.  D. J. Cole was then fouled on a drive to the hoop with 8:28 left.  Cole hit the first of two and the Penguins jacked the lead up to seven with 7:38 to go.

“There were two keys to winning this game tonight”, said Slocum.  ”First off, we outrebounded them, and that has been an achiles heel for us.  Secondly was we hit free throws down the stretch.  It gets contagious and when they start falling, it seems like everyone is hitting.”

At the 6:25 mark, senior Ashen Ward (below) hit a pair of charity tosses increasing YSU’s fast-dwindling lead to 57-52.  Kaylon Williams nailed a three to make it a 57-54 game, and then Ward went back to the line and hit two more to give YSU the 59-54 lead. Milwaukee took a two point lead on another Williams three that made it 61-59 in favor of the Panthers.

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With 3:18 left to go in the game and the Penguins trailing 62-59, Blake Allen connected on a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game.  Milwaukee converted an alley-oop to take their thee-point lead back.  With 2:40 left, Kendrick Perry hit one of two free throws to leave it a two-point Milwaukee lead at 64-62.  Perry went right back to the line to shoot a one-and-one, and he was able to make one of two. DuShawn Brooks was fouled on the rebound of the second free throw and went to the line first tying the game at 64 , and then giving the Penguins a 65-64 lead with his second.

With just under two minutes to go, Haarsma connected on a pair of free throws to lift the Panthers back in front, 66-65.  Perry was again fouled and hit one of two to tie game at 66.  After an empty possession by the Panthers, the Penguins came into their offense slowly with under a minute to play.  Ward scooped up an offensive rebound and put it back with 31 seconds to play putting the Penguins ahead, 68-66.  The crowd rose to their feet with 18 seconds to go and Milwaukee holding the rock.  A three was off the mark, but rebounded by Milwaukee, where Damian Eargle, among the national leaders in blocks, had perhaps his biggest career swat to preserve the win.

YSU got a career-best effort from Blake Allen who finished with 27, including 7-8 from three.  Eargle also compiled a double-double putting up 10 points and ten rebounds and blocking four shots, including the stuff that sealed the game.”

“They are really tough, but we have done great at home so far”, said Allen.  When asked if he was ‘in a zone’ in the first half, Allen replied, “Definitely the case.  I have been in the gym and working hard and tonight it pid off for us”.

Milwaukee got double digits out of Williams (18 points), Haarsma (14 points), Gully (13points), and Ryan Allen (11 points).

YSU Men To Face Milwaukee On ESPN3 Friday Night

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The Youngstown State men’s basketball team (9-8, 4-2 Horizon League) returns home to entertain Horizon League-leader Milwaukee, Friday, Jan. 20, at the Beeghly Center. Tipoff is set for 7:03 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.  The first 500 students to attend will get a free t0-shirt.

This is the 30th meeting between Youngstown State and Milwaukee in an all-times series that dates back to 1972. Milwaukee owns a 24-5 advantage in the series and has won that last four games and seven of the last eight games. In the last meeting, Milwaukee outlasted the Penguins in overtime, 94-87, at the Beeghly Center.

Milwaukee is currently 13-6 overall and leads the Horizon League with a 6-1 league mark, including winning its last three contests. The Panthers are coming off victories over Wright State (58-38) on Jan. 12 and Detroit (84-74) on Jan. 14.  Kaylon Williams leads the Panthers with 11.3 points and 6.2 assists per game. Tony Meier, James Haarsma and Ja’Rob McCallum are also in double figures averaging 10.3, 10.2 and 10 points per game, respectively.

Senior Ashen Ward has been the Guins’ go-to player over the last five games. The Cleveland, Ohio, native averaged 18.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He also shot 56.6 percent (30-of-53) from the floor and 58.6 percent (17-of-29)from 3-point range.

With two 3-pointers against Butler, junior Blake Allen recorded the 100th made 3-pointer of his career. Allen reached the century mark in his 47th game played, which is the second fastest in school history. Elmer Brown (1998-2000) reached 100 made 3-pointers in his 45th game.

Junior Damian Eargle has recorded a block in every game this season. He has posted multiple blocks in 15 of 17 games and has swatted at least three blocks in 14 games. Over the last four games, Eargle has tallied 19 blocked shots for an average of 5.3 blocks per contest. He has also posted at least five blocks nine times this season.