Ryan Patton surpassed 1,000 points as the Penguins ended the drought with a 69-55 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The nightmare finally ended for the Youngstown State men's basketball team.
The Penguins snapped a 13-game losing streak on Thursday night with a 69-55 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay, in a Horizon League contest before 2,777 fans at Beeghly Center.
The Penguins (4-22, 2-14 Horizon) have one more non-league game remaining on Saturday against Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne at Beeghly.
YSU will open the Horizon League tournament on March 1 at 7 p.m. against UW-Green Bay (6-19, 3-11) in the play-in game. The winner will meet the tournament's No. 1 seed the following night.
Over 1,000: The victory was highlighted by senior Ryan Patton surpassing the 1,000-point mark for his career. He became the 28th player in school history to do so.
Patton scored a team-high 17 points and has 1,005 for his career.
"It's a heck of an accomplishment when you stop to figure that Ryan scored only 73 points in his first season," said YSU coach John Robic.
"He's one of the top 10 players in this league and hopefully he'll get the recognition due him on one of the all-league teams."
Robic was relieved with the victory.
"It's been a long time coming," he said. "I feel good for these kids because they've never stopped playing hard all year long.
"We guarded well tonight," he added. "We had a great shoot-around earlier and they were in a great frame of mind."
Patton was happier with the victory than reaching his milestone.
"Tonight, we finally put 40 minutes together," he said.
"I worked hard for it [1,000 points], it's been five years here," added Patton. "I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Robic because he gets the most out of you."
Reinforcement: Sophomore TeJay Anderson added 12 points and had three blocked shots and three steals, while freshmen Doug Underwood and Jimmy Moore each tossed in 10 points. Moore added seven rebounds as the Penguins out-rebounded Green Bay 31-22.
The Phenix's Greg Babcock was the game's top scorer with 23 points, while DeVante Blanks added 12.
The Penguins shot well from the floor finishing 24-for-49 (49 percent). The Phoenix shot 38.1 percent.
YSU also out-scored Green Bay inside the paint 30-20, and each team made 17 points off turnovers. YSU also had an 8-0 edge in points on fast breaks.
Better than mark: UW-Green Bay coach Mike Heideman said the Penguins "out-played us in every phase of the game. They're much better than a 1-14 team; they played everybody hard and tough all season long. Nobody really dominated them totally."
About their third meeting next week in the tournament, Heideman said, "It'll be interesting."
What appealed to Robic the most was that the Penguins led from start to finish and never really had a letdown.
The score was tied at 2, but YSU went ahead on a three-point play by Moore and never trailed again.
Spurt: The Penguins led 14-12 then went on a 13-2 run for a 26-14 lead with 5 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the first half.
Green Bay got within seven points (28-21), but the Penguins led 36-26 at halftime.
YSU kept the margin in double figures for most of the early going in the second half. The Penguins' biggest lead was 17 points (63-46) with 4:24 remaining and they made 4-for-6 free throws down the stretch.
Saturday's regular season finale with Fort Wayne will tip off at 7:35 p.m.