Junior guard DJ Cole brought a different type of intensity during Saturday’s win against the University of Detroit Mercy Titans. Cole had a career best in points (22) and 3-point field goals made (4).
“My first instinct is to be a pass first point guard, but if I have the open shot I will take it,” Cole said, “and tonight they were sagging off of me tonight and I just got into a rhythm. They just kept going in, so I just kept shooting.”
Head coach Jerry Slocum thought that Cole did a great job with taking pressure off of senior guard Kendrick Perry. Detroit’s game plan was to shut Perry down by double-teaming him, but when the pressure was on Cole, he stepped up.
Cole was all over the court in the 77-63 victory. He wasn’t just shooting the ball well; he was making smart decisions as well. Slocum said the team was spreading the ball around nicely.
“We had 20 assists on 24 field goals. When you’re doing that, it means your sharing the basketball and doing those things,” Slocum said.
This win is a confidence booster for the Penguins (12-8, 3-2 in the Horizon League). YSU was 0-2 in the conference at the beginning of conference play.
“Every game is going to be a grind. We just have to put our all on the floor every night for 40 minutes,” Cole said.
Cole wasn’t the only one playing with a different type of intensity. Three other teammates were in double figures and had revenge on their mind just like Cole.
“They put up 100 points on our home floor last year,” Cole said. “That’s probably one of the worst losses in YSU history. We talked about it, but we came out and showed we didn’t want that to happen again.”
The Titans defeated YSU, 101-60, last year at Beeghly Center.
“Your not human if it didn’t motivate you,” Slocum said. “You can’t have that happen in your own building and not have a memory to it.”
Slocum also felt the intensity, saying it was a “typical Horizon League, hard fought, 40-minute blood bath.”
The game got even more intense when Detroit’s senior forward, Evan Buinsma, brought Perry down hard on a failed dunk attempt late in the game. The ruling was a flagrant foul for the incident, and he would later foul out of the game.
Slocum didn’t think there was any spiteful intent towards Perry when he was fouled.
“Buinsma is a classy kid,” Slocum said. “There’s no way in my mind there was any malicious intent.”
Last year the Penguins couldn’t catch a break when playing Detroit. The Titans swept the floor with the Penguins beating them by 41 points.
This win gives YSU a three-game winning streak. The Penguins will play Valparaiso University Thursday at the Beeghly Center beginning at 7:05 pm.