By Marc Weems
As the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team (8-11, 2-4 Horizon League) looked to avenge a loss to Valparaiso University on Thursday by winning today. They faced a University of Illinois-Chicago team (10-8, 3-2 HL) who was coming off a close road win at Cleveland State on Thursday.
The Penguins were unable to defeat UIC as the Flames beat YSU 92-89 in overtime.
Despite YSU guard Cameron Morse’s 40 points, YSU was unable to defeat UIC due to the fact that yet again, free throw shooting was a big issue.
Midway through the first half, YSU had built an 18-11 lead that quickly dissipated as UIC’s Dominique Matthews led their small comeback. UIC led at halftime 30-27.
Although, UIC shot 11-19 from the free throw line, YSU shot 13-23 from the free throw line. This is now around the fourth consecutive game that YSU has struggled from the free throw line.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “The fact that we had the opportunity to win the game about five or six times, and we didn’t capitalize. We were also horrific from the free throw line and we had some very, very bad mental lapses on the defensive end.”
The second half was a huge scoring outburst for both teams. Both teams combined for 95 points with Morse scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting in the second half.
With 2:05 left in the second half, Kyle Guice hit a three-pointer that caused YSU to take a 30-second timeout.
YSU was then able to tie the game with a Brett Frantz jump shot with 28 seconds left. Both teams headed to overtime tied at 76.
After a Devin Haygood, UIC went on an 11-4 run to put the game out of hand.
YSU allowed UIC to shoot 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three point line. On the other side of the ball, YSU only shot 42 percent overall but just 26 percent from the three point line.
YSU’s shooting numbers were helped by Morse’s great shooting performance. Although it wasn’t enough for the win, he shot 15-35 and 6-12 from the three point line to put up 40 points.
“It feels pretty good,” Morse said. “But we loss so it doesn’t really matter honestly. Getting 40 points in a win is great but it’s a hard fought loss today. We need to find a way to win.”
“Well, he had a nice night,” Slocum said about Morse’s performance. “He’s capable of doing that almost every night.”
For UIC, guard Tarkus Ferguson recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Dominique Williams scored 21 points off the bench on more than 50 percent shooting.
YSU’s other bright spot besides Morse, was freshman guard Braun Hartfield. Hartfield was named Horizon League Freshmen of the Year just a few weeks ago. In the UIC game, Hartfield scored a career-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds. Hartfield also shot 66 percent on 8-of-12 shooting.
“Braun’s played very well,” Slocum said about Hartfield’s recent play. “We’ve really been kind of pushing the envelope recently to kind of give starter like impact.”
Hartfield’s impact comes at a time of need when the Penguins needs scoring from their bench.
Yet another issue of the Penguins was that there bench was severely outscored. UIC’s bench outscored YSU’s 51-29. Three guys off their bench, Kyle Guice, Marcus Ottey scored in double digits along with Dominique Matthews who had a team-high 21 points.
YSU will play at Detroit Mercy on Monday, January 16 at 7pm.