By Rick Henneman
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team was unable to continue its momentum off of its double-overtime win against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Penguins ended 2016 with a 90-77 loss against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday at the Beeghly Center.
YSU (7-8, 1-1 in the Horizon League) moved the ball well early in the first half but Green Bay’s defense created turnovers and forced the Penguins into poor shooting opportunities.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Green Bay guard Trevor Anderson hit a 3-pointer which sparked a 10-0 run for the Phoenix.
Green Bay (8-6, 2-0 in the Horizon League) focused on YSU’s Cameron Morse for much of the first half, leaving him double or even triple teamed at times. Morse finished the half with seven points. Devin Haygood had five points off the bench.
Green Bay continued to pull away in the first half and entered halftime leading 44-30. The Phoenix shot 50 percent from the field including 11-12 from the free throw line
YSU shot 0-10 from beyond the arc and 13-30 overall in the first period of play.
Green Bay carried the momentum into the second half when a missed three from YSU forward Rahim Williams led to a slam dunk from Green Bay’s Kenneth Lowe.
YSU went back and forth with Green Bay for most of the second half but wasn’t able to cut the deficit to less than 20. That was until YSU’s Francisco Santiago went on a run with about eight minutes left in the game.
Over the next three and a half minutes, Santiago scored 14 straight points for YSU while also grabbing three rebounds and a steal.
Morse then went on to make two shots from beyond the 3-point line on back-to-back possessions and a layup from Santiago cut the Green Bay lead to eight.
However, the comeback was halted by another Anderson three for Green Bay.
Morse led the game with 24 points while Santiago finished with 18 points and a season-high four steals.
Devin Haygood ended the game with a career-high 11 points.
YSU head coach Jerry Slocum was unhappy with his team’s performance on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m very disappointed in the effort on our part. We didn’t take away anything that they did well like transition defense. Our free throw shooting was not very good. We had self-inflicted wounds all night.”
Although YSU cut Green Bay’s lead to eight, Slocum felt that the team could have done better in their final possessions.
“We cut it to eight and I thought our next three possessions after that were hurried and forced,” he said. “We did not take good basketball IQ shots at that time.”
The Penguins will begin 2017 with an away game against Northern Kentucky on Jan. 5.