With the Horizon League tournament beginning on Tuesday and a dismal road record, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team was given an opportunity to host Oakland University in the first round.
Instead, the Penguins were caught napping late Saturday night. The Golden Grizzlies took advantage behind Travis Bader’s 33-point performance with an 87-81 victory. They will host YSU (15-16, 6-10 Horizon League) on Tuesday.
After Bader nailed two free throws with 33.4 seconds remaining in the game, Duke Mondy stole the inbound pass while Oakland (12-19, 7-9) led 82-77. Mondy made both of his free throw attempts that ultimately ended the contest.
Bader finished with 23 points in the second half. Corey Petros finished behind him with 23 overall. Kendrick Perry, playing in his final regular season game, finished with a team-high 30 points. He kissed the Pete the Penguin logo on the Dom Roselli Court in Beeghly Center when the final buzzer sounded. Four other Penguins finished in double figures.
The Golden Grizzlies began on an 11-3 scoring run to open the first half. YSU quickly countered with an 11-3 run of its own, tying the game at the 13:38 mark.
Trailing by two, OU sprinted on a mini 7-0 run to take a 31-26 lead and later 36-31 with 3:48 left in the half. Shortly after, the Penguins bolted on a 12-3 run and took a four-point lead. They led, 45-43, at halftime.
Perry finished with 20 points in the first half, sealing his second conference scoring title in the last three years. YSU shot 56 percent from the field and 58.3 beyond the 3-point line in the first half.
A back and forth battle to open the second half led to a 69-69 tie at the 6:04 mark. The Golden Grizzlies then bolted on a mini 6-0 scoring run.
YSU then cut the deficit to two points when Bader nailed a 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining. Perry, who only finished with 10 points in the second half, hit a floater with 1:01 remaining. Oakland led, 80-77, before the Golden Grizzlies hit four consecutive free throws.
YSU will enter the Horizon League tournament as the seventh seed. The Penguins are 2-12 on the road this season and 1-7 against the conference. The only way YSU plays at home again is if it faces either the University of Detroit Mercy or the University of Illinois at Chicago in the championship game on March 11.