By Marc Weems
With the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team (12-20) coming off a first round win against Cleveland State University, it would have to win against the No. 1 seed Oakland University (24-7) to continue in the tournament.
With 3.3 seconds left in the game, YSU won 81-80 on a buzzer-beating layup by Jorden Kaufman.
“I was really proud of our guys,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said with a smile. “All night long we are able to win the battle on the boards. I thought our guys did a tremendous job and hung in there.”
Slocum said they played 40 minutes of solid basketball.
YSU quickly got to work down low as center Jorden Kaufman scored YSU’s first six points. Oakland answered with a few threes to put itself ahead.
Oakland led YSU 10-8 14:53 left in the first half. Kaufman led all scorers with six points along with two rebounds.
YSU came out of the timeout blazing as YSU guard Cameron Morse scored five points in the first minute back in action. YSU led the game 19-18 with 11:28 left. Morse led all scorers with seven points early.
YSU kept the energy high as it led 26-23 with 7:50 left in the first half. Oakland missed 7-of-9 shots at that moment. Morse still led all scorers with 12 points. OU forward Jalen Hayes had nine points.
YSU turned defense into offense with 10 points off five turnovers. YSU led 39-31 with 3:01 left in the first half. Morse has 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting including three 3-pointers. No matter the score, Oakland made a quick comeback.
The Golden Grizzles went on a 10-2 run to cause a YSU timeout with 56 seconds left in the first half. YSU led 43-41.
Oakland was able to get to the free throw often and led 44-43 at halftime. OU guard Martez Walker had 12 points along with two rebounds. Morse led the Penguins with 20 points along with five rebounds and three assists.
YSU kept the energy coming as they grabbed the lead back. YSU led 52-48 with 15:49 left in the game. Morse had 27 points to lead all scorers.
YSU had some trouble down low but was able to keep OU honest. YSU led 58-56 with 11:36 left. Morse had 30 points and Kaufman also had 14 points. OU’s Isaiah Brock grabbed 10 rebounds.
At that point in the game, YSU was making a difference on the boards with a 34-27 advantage and 12 offensive rebounds. The Penguins were also shooting 46 percent from the 3-point line compared to the 27 percent that OU was shooting.
As time went on, YSU kept scrapping. OU led YSU 69-68 with just 5:59 left. Morse has 32 points for the game high.
Oakland led 73-72 with 3:42. Morse and Kaufman has combined for 52 points at that point for YSU.
Just a few plays later, forward Matt Donlan hit a clutch three to put YSU up 75-73 with 3:09 left.
“That was a big one,” Slocum said. “We need Matt [Donlan] to play well. He’s such a tough matchup for teams. That was a huge three for us.”
Past that point, all the wildness ensued. With OU up 80-79, the ball was thrown out of bounds giving possession to YSU with 28 seconds.
With three seconds left, Morse caught the ball and passed to Kaufman who laid the ball up as time expired. YSU won 81-80.
“They played good defense on me,” Morse said. “I didn’t forget that. I knew that if we played Oakland, I was going to have a good game. I knew I had that edge coming into the game.”
Morse said that when he had the ball he imagined taking the shot until he saw Kaufman open down low and knew he had to pass it.
“It’s a shot I’ve made hundreds of times,” Kaufman said. “Just make it is all. It was a great pass by Cam and that’s it.”
YSU will play the winner of the Northern Kentucky University/Wright State University game on Monday at 9:30 p.m.