By Marc Weems
With Youngstown State University (11-20) coming off a season split of Cleveland State University (9-21), it would have to play CSU again. CSU beat YSU 69-55 on Feb. 25.
YSU defeated CSU 84-69.
Early in the first half, the play was physical on both ends. The play began with an emphatic slam by CSU guard Rob Edwards. YSU and CSU were tied at 6 with 15:38 left in the first half.
Quickly after the first media timeout, YSU forward Braun Hartfield kept YSU in the game with two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. YSU led 16-14 with 12:45 left in the first half. Hartfield had eight points.
Both Hartfield and forward Matt Donlan led the way as YSU was down just 28-27 with 7:49. Donlan had 12 points while Hartfield has 11 points. Edwards had nine points for CSU.
CSU led YSU 37-33 at the end of the first half. CSU missed its’ last 11 field goals. Donlan led all scorers with 12 points. Edwards led CSU with nine points. YSU’s Jorden Kaufman had a game-high eight rebounds.
“I thought we guarded really well,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “I thought it was one of our best efforts of the year. Our guys really just dug in.”
YSU ended the first half shooting 38 percent from the 3-point line compared to CSU’s 27 percent.
“I was just trying to get my shots,” Donlan said. “We were sharing the ball well. I thought we shared the ball really well.”
Donlan also said that he fed off Cameron Morse being double teamed by taking good shots.
Hartfield stayed hot to start the second half. He hit two 3-pointers in the first few minutes. He had five threes at that point. YSU was tied with CSU at 45 with 15:57 left in the second half.
Just two minutes late, CSU was forced to call a timeout after a Matt Donlan transition three that put YSU up 51-47 with 14:08 left in the game. Donlan had 17 points at that point.
YSU was able to get to the free throw line to keep itself in the game. YSU led CSU 55-53 with 11:44 left in the game.
A Morse floater caused CSU to need a timeout with 9:28 left in the game. Donlan and Hartfield both had 17 points each. Morse finished the game with 12 points and six assists.
“He got double teamed a lot,” Hartfield said. “He was making the right passes. He is a great passer. No one gets to see that because he shoots a lot but he is a great passer.”
Hartfield said that he just tried to find open spots and that he wanted to take good shots.
Kaufman just a minute later secured his double-double and had 13 points with 11 rebounds with 7:28 left in the game. YSU led CSU 62-55.
“I thought Cam [Morse] played a really good game,” Slocum said. “We had five guys in double figures. To me, that’s more important than one person scoring a bunch.”
Slocum also said Kaufman stayed ready and matured into that he played tonight.
YSU’s lead ballooned to 64-55 before Edwards scored five straight points to cause a YSU timeout. YSU was up 64-60 with 5:52 left in the second half.
The tempo from that point ramped up as both Donlan and Edwards traded threes.
YSU then went on an 8-0 run to put it up 75-65 with just 2:16 left.
Four clutch Free Throws by Donlan put the game out of reach and YSU won 84-69.
“We came in with a little chip on our shoulder,” Donlan said about losing to CSU a week ago. “We wanted to show them we weren’t the team they beat a week ago. We wanted to send them back to Cleveland.”
YSU will now face Oakland University at 5:30pm on March 4.