A crowd of 4,096 saw Youngstown State fall to Cleveland State, 58-48.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- It appears that the Youngstown State men's basketball team will not get out of the Horizon League cellar this season, but it won't be for a lack of effort.
The Penguins battled hard here Thursday, but still dropped a 58-48 decision to Cleveland State University before 4,096 fans at Beeghly Center.
The Penguins fell to 3-20 on the year and 1-12 in the Horizon League, and extended their losing streak to 11 straight games.
Road trip next: They are two games behind eighth place UW-Green Bay, which is 3-9 in the standings. YSU must go on the road to play league-leading Butler on Saturday and then at No. 3 Detroit on Monday.
Cleveland State improved to 11-13 on the year and 5-8 in the Horizon League.
"We hung in there, but just couldn't get over the hump," YSU coach John Robic said. "Our young kids were intimidated early in the game by Cleveland State's athleticism, but they fought back and we still weren't out of it until the end.
"We had a great crowd and it's a tribute to the effort these kids have put fourth," he said. "We're struggling, but when you come out and see nearly 4,100 fans in the stands, you can really appreciate the people in this area."
Cleveland State coach Rollie Massimino also praised the Penguins.
"I think that John and his staff are doing a remarkable job," Massimino said. "They are very young, but they play extremely hard and they are very aggressive. It's difficult to win with that many youngsters in the lineup, but good things usually come when you play that hard."
Shooting woes: The Penguins had another horrible shooting night from the field, hitting on just 16 of 60 shots for 26.7 percent. They were just 7 of 29 in the first half for 24.1 percent. Youngstown was also poor from behind the arc, hitting just 5 of 23 3-point shots.
They didn't even have a good night at the foul line, making just 11 of 18 attempts.
The Penguins did out-rebound the Vikings 43-37 behind the 12 boards from freshman Brian Radakovich.
The Penguins only had one player in double figures, senior guard Ryan Patton with 17 points.
Cleveland State shot 41.2 percent from the field, but had seven blocked shots. The Penguins came up with six blocks in the game.
The contest was close for the first 10 minutes as the score was tied four times over that stretch with the Vikings taking the lead for keeps, 13-11, on a basket by Jamaal Harris.
Cleveland State then went on an 8-2 run.
The Penguins trailed by 10, 26-16 before Patton hit a 3-point shot with 2:15 to play. Still, the Penguins were behind 28-19 at halftime.
Second half: The Vikings scored the first seven points of the second half and built a 35-19 lead with 16:06 remaining.
YSU's first bucket came at 15:53 and the Penguins fought back to cut the lead to nine points, 39-30, with 11:55 on another 3-point goal by Patton.
YSU got to within seven points three times, the last time at 52-45 with 1:28 remaining on a jump shot by senior Stephen Flores. But the Vikings connected on four of six free throws in the final minute to put the game away.
The Penguins now go on the road Saturday at Butler for a noon tipoff in a game that will be televised by Fox Sports Ohio.
YSU will play at Detroit on Monday in a 7:05 p.m. tipoff before returning home Thursday to close out Horizon League play against UW-Green Bay in the second game of a doubleheader that includes the YSU women meeting UW-Milwaukee at 5:15 p.m.