Posts Tagged ‘Blake Allen’
The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will host Canisius in the second round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, Saturday, March 23, at 7:05 p.m. at the Beeghly Center.
Ticket prices will remain the same as the first round: $10 for reserved, $7 for general admission, YSU students are free with a current and valid ID. Tickets go on sale at 2 p.m. at the YSU ticket office and will be on sale at the YSU women’s basketball WNIT game at the Beeghly Center.
Penguin Club members and season-ticket holder have until 5 p.m. Friday to renew their tickets at the YSU ticket office. The ticket office will be open on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Gates open at 6 p.m. at the Beeghly Center.
The Penguins (18-15) won the first postseason tournament game in school history by defeating Oakland, 99-87, on March 19 to advance to the second round. Canisius (19-13) moved on by knocking off Elon, 59-53, on March 20.
Youngstown State set a school single-game record with 18 three-pointers against Oakland to secure its 18th win of the season, the most since 2000-01. Junior Kendrick Perry scored a game-high 31 points, and senior Blake Allen tied a career high with 27 points to become the 35th YSU player to score 1,000 career points.
This is just the fourth meeting between the Penguins and Golden Griffins in a series that dates back to 1941. Canisius won all three previous games, the last one a 71-59 at the Beeghly Center on Nov. 26, 2006.
Canisius, who has recorded a 14-win improvement from 2011-12, finished fifth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with an 11-7 record in and its 19 wins are the most since the 2000-01 season. The Griffs’ 11 conference victories were the most since the 1998-99 campaign.
Youngstown State’s first-ever Division I postseason tournament game was physical, emotional, high-scoring, and full of thrills. In the end, the Penguins rode 18 three-pointers to advance in the CIT Tournament over a good Oakland team, winning this one, 99-87.
“I didn’t think we would have to get 99 to win” said Coach Jerry Slocum. ” The difference was at around the twelve minute mark of the second half, both teams had converted about four possessions in a row. At the timeout, I told our guys that we needed to make some stops. We got four stops and converted our offensive chances and the lead went from two points to eight.”
Oakland entered the game making its fifth postseason tournament finishing in the CIT Final Four in 2012. Travis Bader scored 700 points during the regular season and averaged 21.9 ppg. Bader lived up to his billing as he knocked down 30 points for the Golden Grizzlies.
“It’s disappointing for the season to end this way”, said Bader. “We wanted better for the seniors and all we can do is take what we learned this season to get better next year.”
In the first half, a track meet broke out and both teams were scoring. Oakland took a 44-43 led into the intermission off of 16 points from Corey Petros and ten from Bader. The Penguins Blake Allen (below) knocked down six first half threes for 18 points to lead YSU.
In the second half, Kendrick Perry blew up. Perry had ten points in the first half, but really ignited the Beeghly Center crowd with 11:11 left to play. Allen started a break on the Oakland end of the court. As he entered the circle, he lobbed a ball for what appeared to be an alley-oop to Perry. The pass was a little high, but Perry caught the ball, almost at the top of the square, with his right hand and pushed it down to give YSU a 66-60 lead.
Allen reached the vaunted 1,000 point milestone on a free throw that would put the Penguins up by 6 points. Allen became the third active Penguin, joining Perry and Damian Eargle. Allen is the 35th Penguin to accomplish that fete.
“We knew he was close”, said Slocum. “It was one of the many reasons we wanted to play this game. He is what is good in this business and we wanted he and Damian to play as much as they could. I am really happy for him.”
Perry would then start connecting with threes. More impressively, this was the farthest into a game this season that YSU would make every free throw that they attempted. Bobby Hain connected on an and-one with 8:25 left. With his made free throw, YSU was a perfect 10-10 from the line.
With YSU ahead 76-69, Shawn Amiker drove and converted to push the Penguin lead to 78-70 with just over seven minutes to play.
Oakland went to full-court pressure, but the patient Penguins advanced the ball through the pressure, got into their offense, and got a dunk from Eargle to go up 81-75 with 5:32 left to play.
Perry went back to work as he drew a foul on Bader and converted both free throws to put YSU up 86-77. The crowd was really riding Bader most of the second half.
Oakland would not quit. Derek Mondy broke out of a pack to draw a foul on a contested layup. Mondy missed the shot but would go to the free throw line. He would hit one of two charity tosses to make it 86-80 with just under three minutes to play.
Perry pushed the Penguins back out by nine with another three, and then Eargle hit a free throw to make it 90-80 with 2:54 to play.
Bader hit a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to cut the lead to 95-87. The Penguins would convert free throws down the stretch to maintain the margin and ice the game.
Perry finished the game with 30, Allen contributed 27, and Belin knocked down 16. With the win, YSU had their first 18-win season since the 2000-01 season. They are also 1-0 in Division I postseason games now.
Where they go next is still in the air – the way the tournament works there are more first round games on Wednesday night. The winning teams will all be reshuffled to see who plays who based on who wants to pay to host the game.
To host a first round game, the Penguins had to cough up $35,000.00. Slocum remarked after the game that he was humbled by the financial support provided to the university by the local businesses.
“There was no financial burden on the university due to the generosity of several local businesses”, commented Slocum. “It is amazing that those businesses and boosters would come up with that kind of money for this to take place. I am deeply touched by their gratitude.”
The last time that Youngstown State University won a game in the State of Indiana was in January of 2001. That is multiple consecutive losses to Butler, Valpo, the Pacers, heck, anyone who would let them play. All told, it had been 28 games since the Penguins pulled out a “W” in the Hoosier State.
On Friday, the streak was extended to 29, as YSU mounted a furious rally but never got all the way back in falling to Wright State, 66-59. “We battled back, but couldn’t finish”, said Jerry Slocum. “I thought we outplayed them in the second half, and I think they outplayed us in the first.
“We had enough stops down the stretch but missed a couple of open threes and a layup, and you just can’t win when you do not convert those chances.”
Youngstown State raced out to a 7-2 lead, but found themselves trailing 19-12 with 8:05 left to play in the first half. Kendrick Perry entered the contest with 12:29 left in the half, but had little effect on the game, as he retook a seat with 8:05 left to play. He would reenter the game again before half.
The Penguins found themselves digging a big hole early as they trailed 21-12 with 6:47 left. To this point in the game, 27.8% from the field, and a couple of shot clock violations were not helping.
Reggie Arceneaux and Miles Dixon combined for more points (15) at this point of the game than YSU had for a total (14). Consequently, at the half, Wright State had a commanding 33-19 lead.
In the second half, YSU tried to make a game of it. After fouling JT Yoho on a successful Raiders three-pointer and made free throw, Perry nailed a three, got a defensive rebound, and then hit a free throw to bring it back to ten at 43-33 with 13:59 to play.
Damian Eargle did all he could on defense (above). His 302nd career block, most all-time in the Horizon League, set a record for having nine blocks in two games, a tournament record.
Bobby Hain cut the Wright State lead to six on an old-fashioned three-point play. The Hain points made it 52-46, but Arceneaux nailed another three to push the lead back to nine.
Eargle hit a free throw with 3:36 left to cut the Wright State lead to 56-53. YSU had come almost all the way back. Arceneaux, again, sucked the momentum out of the Penguins with another three to boost the lead back to six.
With 49.8, Perry was fouled. He hit the second free throw to make it 61-57, and the Penguins used a full timeout. Off of the timeout, Wright State started pecking from the free throw line and YSU could get no closer.
YSU’s season was a success. The seventeen wins completed a string of two consecutive sixteen-plus win seasons for Slocum. Few teams would have been able to withstand the adversity that this group did down the stretch.
Friday’s tournament game was really the first time the ‘Guins saw Eargle and Perry on the floor at the same time.
“I don’t feel like we had a timing issue”, said Eargle. “Me and KP have been playing together for three years and I don’t think it was timing at all.”
Belin notched 20 points and Eargle added 13 points to go with his six rebounds and two blocks. Perry, who seemed ineffective in the first half, got his rhythm and finished with eleven points.
Wright State extended the season nobody expected them to have with the win and will face Detroit on Saturday.
“Give credit to Youngstown State”, said Raiders Coach, Billy Donnan. “We feel fortunate to come away with this win and we will have our hands full with Detroit tomorrow.”
With Youngstown State University winning their first-round Horizon League Tournament game at home, the tricky situation of getting to Valparaiso for the second round comes up. Dealing with all of the hurdles makes it a challenge, but the end result is always satisfying, more so if the Penguins could win.
The first challenge to face begins after YSU wins in the first round. Without Kendrick Perry, and coming off of their worst performance of the season at Wright State, the Penguins were able to muster a 62-60 win at home in their first-round challenge. This automatically placed YSU into a second-round game at Valparaiso on Friday.
Because I am not financially able to do this website full-time, I was at the mercy of the boss at my regular place of employment to allow me a Friday-for-Sunday swap of my work schedule. The paper pile on my desk would have been an early indicator that the answer might have been a resounding ‘no’, but my compassionate employer was very cooperative in my proposed switch and agreed that I could maneuver the schedule for the rare occasion.
Once the hurdle was cleared, I started calling around to see who was headed West. YSU Sports Information Director, Trevor Parks, said he would be making the trip Friday morning.
Thursday was action packed. Because I set up at baseball card shows on weekends, I had been awaiting the release of 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball. As good luck would have it, my wholesaler called me at 3 p.m. on Thursday to let me know that it had come in.
Problem: The wholesaler is in Cleveland and I wanted to work late to show my boss that I was appreciative of his unselfish permission to jockey my schedule, but I had to get to Cleveland. So at 6 (normal quitting time is 4:30), I called it a day and headed toward the lake to get my supply.
I got home around 8:30 with a new group of choices. I had a case of these unopened cards, an empty suitcase, and hadn’t eaten all day. I figured I have probably eaten enough in the last 45 years to skip dinner and got into the baseball cards. When I looked at the clock, it was 12:45 a.m. and I still had the empty suitcase.
I scrambled into suitcase packing mode and realized I had some ironing to do. Finally, at about 3, I got some sleep.
Trevor and Ron Stevens, who photographs everything at YSU with pride, met up with me at 8 a.m. and we started the voyage of hope, a chance to see the Penguins lay their season on the line in hopes of getting to the big dance for the first time in school history.
On a trip fueled with coffee, friendship, and good conversation, the five-and-a-half hour drive (357 miles) went pretty quick.
Hopefully the return trip will be celebratory and the Mahoning Valley can look toward unchartered destinations for Jerry Slocum’s Penguins.
D. J. Cole has seen his role expand greatly over the season. Cole and his mates faced a tough task of playing without Kendrick Perry. The Penguins rode Cole down the stretch, resulting in a game-winning bucket that gave YSU a 62-60 opening round Horizon League Tournament victory.
The win was the 17th of the season for YSU. That was the first time a Penguins team has collected 17 wins in a season since 2001.
“I’m really proud of our guys”, said Jerry Slocum. “Coming off of our worst effort of the year against Wright State, this was a tremendous game of character. I thought it was Damain’s [Eargle] most solid performance of the year.”
YSU did the most they could with what they had to work with. In the first half, the Penguins bench was outscored 10-0, but the real story was the poor handling of the ball. YSU only had five turnovers on the stat sheet, but several times the offense was disrupted by a dropped ball, forcing the offense to reset with little time on the shot clock.
YSU got eight first half points from Kamren Belin, and seven from senior Blake Allen. Loyola’s Christian Thomas poured in 12 points to lead the way. Second team All-Horizon pick Ben Averkamp was minimized, only notching eight. Averkamp has had big games against the Penguins here at the Beeghly Center in his career.
The Penguins held as big as an eight point lead in the first half, but eventually fell into a 29-29 tie at the intermission.
The absence of Kendrick Perry (above) was obvious. The Penguins missed the junior in perimeter defense and. of course, lacked that ‘spark’ on offense that Perry has provided the last two seasons. Granted, Shawn Amiker played good quality minutes, maybe his best game of the season, but the chemistry goes awry when your go-to guy is watching.
“We thought Kendrick was getting better”, said Slocum. “He is not going to play at 80%, I assure you of that. He has tried to practice and is favoring the injury and I am just not going to take that chance. He better really be ready.”
The Ramblers jumped out to a 40-34 lead in the second half. At the 12:08 mark, Amiker was the recipient of a nice pass from Eargle. On the next possession, D. J. Cole drove through Loyola defenders to kiss a soft shot off of the glass for a deuce that tied the game at 43 apiece. Cole would again drive to the hoop and convert, this time giving the Penguins a 45-43 lead with 10:58 left to play.
Baskets by Allen and Belin found YSU ahead 50-45 with 7:42 left to play in the game.
Allen buried a three from the corner with 5:52 left to play to give the Penguins an eight point lead. With 3:22 left in the game, the Penguins again coughed away the big lead once again finding themselves ahead only by 3, at 59-56. With 56.9 seconds left, Averkamp spotted up for a three. Eargle stepped up to challenge the shot, to which Averkamp drew contact and got to shoot three free throws. Averkamp sunk two of the three and YSU held a one point lead.
With 24.1 seconds left, Allen penetrated and hit Amiker, who was fouled. Amiker hit one of his two free throws to make it 60-58 in favor of YSU.
Devon Turk drew contact on a drive with 12.7 seconds left. Turk buried both to tie the game. YSU inbounded and Cole saw daylight and went for it nailing the game winner.
“On a play like that, it goes from my mouth to their ears to their feet”. said Slocum. “Spmetimes the plays are not executed when you go through all of that, but we did it.”
YSU strived for consistency throughout this game. There were flashes of brilliance and moments of mutiny strung together over the 40 minutes of basketball played, really by both teams.
The Penguins got 15 points from Allen, 15 more from Belin, 10 from Eargle, and a sneaky 13 from Cole. Eargle had 7 blocked shots to go with 8 rebounds. The seven blocked shots were one shy of a Horizon League Tournament game record. Amiker played very well, contributing 9 points and grabbing 9 boards.
“Shawn gives us energy”, commented Slocum. “He gives us some size at the three spot that you normally would not get when playing three guards.”
Loyola got 16 from Thomas, and Jordan Hicks scored 12. Averkamp managed 14, but credit the Penguins for keeping him out of the picture with stingy low-post defense.
The Penguins head to Valparaiso to face the #3 seed, Wright State on Thursday.
If Youngstown State is going to make a run in the Horizon League Tournament, which starts Tuesday, they will need to provide a much better effort than they did Saturday at the Nutter Center. Wright State, picked by the “experts” to finish in the basement of the conference, improved their third place standing with a 72-45 conquest of YSU.
“This is a tough way to go into the playoffs.”, said Jerry Slocum. “This was probably our worst effort of the year,”
In the first half, Wright State raced out to an early double-digit lead with the help of 14 Youngstown State turnovers leading to 19 Wright State points. The Penguins could only muster a 30% shooting percentage in the half, while the Raiders shot 61%, resulting in a 39-19 lead for WSU. The Penguins finished the game with 16 turnovers.
Damian Eargle managed to score seven of the Penguins 19 points in the half. The Raiders got nine points from Kurt Hess‘s high school friend, Matt Vest. In fact, Hess, Torrian Pace, and Chris Elkins (below) made the trip to Dayton on Friday. Hess grew up in the area.
In the second half, D. J. Cole penetrated and dumped a feed to Eargle, who snared an easy basket. The hoop made the score 47-28 with a shade over 14 minutes left to play in the game. Four minutes later, the Penguins found themselves down 21, trailing 51-30. Wright State was getting two or three chances each offensive possession with good offensive rebounding.
Kamren Belin hit threes on consecutive possessions to make it 59-38, but Wright State quickly regained control of things, capped by J. T. Yoho‘s bucket in the paint with 3:46 left to make it 64-39.
For YSU, Eargle finished the game with 11 points to lead the team. Allen had 5 with 5 rebounds to lead the team, and Belin ended up with 8 points.
This year’s conference Cinderella, Wright State (19-11, 10-6), got 14 points from Jerran Young and 11 from Vest in the win. As a team, the Raiders compiled 12 steals.
All the Penguins (16-14, 7-9) can do now is focus on Tuesday. They cannot mope or dwell because the next loss means “season over” for the team. It also means the careers of Allen and Eargle will end.
Kendrick Perry shot around with the team during the pregame but was again held out. His status is unchanged and he will be reevaluated again before a decision is made about being in the Penguin lineup on Tuesday
Show support for the Penguins Tuesday and get to the Beeghly Center for their first-round playoff game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.