By Dan Hiner
It was another game and another loss for the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team on Thursday night. The Penguins lost 87-81 to Wright State University.
With Thursday night’s loss, the Penguins lost seven out of their last eight games.
The Penguins held their own for most of the first half, but YSU started to fall apart with 5:45 left in the first. The Penguins trailed the Raiders 30-26 at that point, but the Raiders went into halftime with a 44-31 lead.
Wright State (18-12, 12-5 in the Horizon League) turned the tide in the game after the Raiders went on an 11-2 run at the end of the first half. The Penguins committed six turnovers with less than 3:30 remaining in the first half.
“We had 12 turnovers in the first half. We took the timeout there — I think it was with 3:23 to go — because we’ve been there so many times in this stretch where we play a pretty good first half, we’re down seven or six, and we have a bunch of turnovers,” Slocum said. “So that was the talk…that wasn’t a media [timeout]. I took that timeout to talk about that specifically — saying ‘we’ve
been here.’ When we played them down there, we were there. We were down by six and then we finished the half with five turnovers.
“That really was the ballgame. Although we cut it to five and we had two possessions. We missed a layup and had a turnover when it was five. You’ve heard me say that our margin of error is we cannot do those things. And right during those last 3:23 we had five possessions the rest of the half, and we had four out of those five possessions were turnovers.”
YSU (10-20, 5-12 in the Horizon League) was able to score in the second half, but the Penguins were unable to consistently stop Wright State and kept trading baskets, preventing YSU from cutting into the lead.
Wright State dominated the paint, outscoring the Penguin 54-30. Wright State center Michael Karena scored a career-high 26 points and tied a career-high eight rebounds. Karena entered the game averaging nine points and four rebounds per game. Coming into the game, Karena averaged 14 points his three games against the Penguins.
“Believe it or not, on the scouting report, that was our emphasis,” Slocum said. “We knew that they go to him against us, I think because we don’t play well against him down there. And believe it or not, that was one of our game emphases … we got abused in the post.”
Wright State shot 61.1 percent from the field. This was the eighth game of the season in which the Penguins have allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent or higher in a game, and was the second highest opponent’s shooting percentage of the season (61.5 against the University of Michigan).
“Again, I thought we competed pretty well,” Slocum said. “I don’t think we guarded well all year and I take responsibility.”
Wright State 87, YSU 81
Wright State (18-12, 12-5) — Michael Karena 11-4-26, Mark Alstork 6-7-21, Joe Thomasson 3-3-9, JT Yoho 3-3-9, Biggie Minnis 4-0-8, Grant Benzinger 3-0-6, Mark Hughes 2-1-6, Parker Ernsthausen 1-0-2. Totals: 33-18-87.
YSU (10-20, 5-12) — Cameron Morse 8-7-29, Matt Donlan 7-1-18, Francisco Santiago 4-1-9, Jordan Andrews 2-2-6, Sidney Umude 3-0-6, Bryce Nickels 2-1-5, Latin Davis 2-0-4, Jorden Kaufman 2-0-4. Totals: 30-12-81.
Wright State 44 43 — 87
YSU 31 50 — 81
3-point field goals: WSU 3 (Alstork 2, Hughes); YSU 9 (Morse 6, Donlan 3).
Rebounds: WSU 27 (Karena 8, Joe Thomasson 8, Minnis 3, Yoho 3, Alstork 2, Ernsthausen 2, Benzinger). YSU 29 (Nickels 7, Donlan 6, Kaufman 4, Santiago 4, Andrews 3, Davis, Umude, Team 3).
Assists: WSU 22 (Minnis 8, Alstork 4, Thomasson 4, Yoho 4, Hughes 2); YSU 13 (Santiago 4, Morse 3, Donlan 2, Kaufman 2, Andrews, Nickels).