By Marc Weems
Despite a 19-3 run in the second half to take the lead, Youngstown State University lost its first Horizon League action of the season to the University of Detroit Mercy, 78-66.
Scoring lacked to begin the contest as both teams were tied at three before Harrison Curry hit a layup for a 5-3 with 15:09 left in the first half.
Detroit Mercy (4-9, 1-0 HL) and YSU (4-10, 0-1 HL) didn’t separate from each other until late in the first half.
The game was tied at 27 with 6:28 left in the half on an Antwan Maxwell Jr. jumper before the Titans quickly went on a 9-2 run by Antoine Davis that caused a YSU timeout with 4:02 left. Davis hit three 3-pointers and had a steal in the run.
Down 46-35 at halftime, the Penguins made a bit of change to try and get back in the ballgame and it worked.
“Id’ say it’s the little things. It’s the details,” Donel Cathcart III said about YSU’s comeback falling short. “Like coach said in the timeout,‘Don’t forget how we got there.’ He was talking about defense. That’s the main part that played a big part in this game today.”
Cathcart led the Penguins with 17 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting including hitting all three of his 3-point attempts.
When looking at numbers, they can be deceiving. For the Penguins, a game like this is no more true of that. The Penguins did almost everything right except win the game. They outrebounded their opponent (40 to 31) and had more assists (15 to 12). A bigger killer was the 3-point line.
The Titans hit 12 of their 26 attempts while YSU hit just eight of their 24 which ultimately made the difference. Davis was the biggest factor in that by hitting seven of his 14 attempts with a game-high 27 points.
“He made a lot of tough shots. I think Garrett [Covington] played really great defense on him,” Cathcart said about Davis’ shooting. “I think he just made great shots.”
Cathcart said that they have already moved on from this game and are ready for their next test which is less than 48 hours away.
Yet again, turnovers were a big issue for the Penguins. With 19 turnovers resulting in 23 points, YSU is struggling to hold on to the ball when it matters most. YSU is averaging nearly 2.5 more turnovers per game than their opponents.
Despite all that, YSU continues to fight back in games when they fall behind which is something to care about. Down 52-37 with 17:43 left, YSU mounted its comeback. They went on that 19-3 run to take the lead, 56-55, on a Covington layup with 10:23 remaining.
“I felt that at that point in the game, Davis was really, really feeling it at that point. I made an executive decision to try to speed this game up a little bit and create some turnovers and it worked,” YSU Head Coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “It worked for a long period of time. We have really, really struggled, for whatever reason, at home, in particular. Overall, we aren’t very good at it but at home we are really bad at playing defense. I’m not sure what the problem is with that.”
Calhoun said that they didn’t give up too many points. He would like to give 72 or 73 points and the Penguins gave up 78. That wasn’t the issue in Calhoun’s mind though.
“What’s more important is the percentage that they are shooting at,” Calhoun said. “When teams come into your building and are consistently shooting 50 percent from the field and almost 50 from three, you’re not going to beat anyone. You’re just kind of kidding yourself. We still have a team and are trying to build a program. You have to take steps along the way to establish a program.”
Naz Bohannon missed the game which was also a big missing piece for YSU.
The Penguins have a quick turnaround as they host Oakland University on Sunday at 2 p.m.