By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team got off to another tough start against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Penguins lost the Panthers 82-74 on Saturday night.
YSU struggled offensively during the first half. The Penguins found themselves down 22-6 with 13:20 remaining in the first half. YSU went into the locker room down 46-29 at halftime. The Penguins shot 28.1 percent from the field and 2-12 from behind the 3-point line in the first half.
The Milwaukee offense couldn’t be stopped early in the game. The Panthers shot 16-29, 55.2 percent, from the field in the first half—including 8-14 from the 3-point arch.
The Penguins were able to turn things around in the second half, shooting 43.6 percent from the floor. The Penguins outscored the Panthers 45-36 in the second half. The YSU defense picked up in the second half as well. The defense held Milwaukee to 36.4 percent, but the difference in the game came at the free throw line.
“We showed some heart, but boy does it hurt,” head coach Jerry Slocum said. “You would like to see your seniors going out on a good note. Obviously it was a great crowd—appreciate all those people coming out for that game. It doesn’t sting any less—it was a tough semester.”
Milwaukee shot 22-22 from the free throw line. The Panthers went to the charity stripe 16 times in the second half, and helped keep the Penguins from taking control at the end of the game.
“Game was lost in the first half,” Slocum said. “I thought we came out and showed very little defensive intensity. I thought we played great passion in the second half and gave ourselves a great chance to win. Game on the line we had a defensive breakdown for a wide open three and a turnover and we couldn’t overcome it. That’s the third game in a row at home where we started off very poorly, and showed some character in the second half.”
Shawn Amiker led the team in scoring with 23 points. Junior forward Bobby Hain scored 21 points, including his 1,000th career point. Hain became the 36th player in YSU basketball history to score 1,000 points.
“Bobby hasn’t played well at all in the last two weeks. He has really struggled,” Slocum said. “I don’t know if it was the 1000 point thing hanging over him. He played like he’s capable in the second half. He’s a major part of this thing. He gotta play well, he doesn’t have to play perfect, but he has to play well. It was good to see him have a good second half.”
With the Horizon League Tournament starting on Mar. 3, the Penguins will look to the loss as a learning experience and momentum heading into their first round matchup against the University of Detroit Mercy.
“It just shows that we gotta bring what we did in the second half. If we play like that we could beat anybody in the league. That’s the confidence we gotta have,” Hain said.