HORIZON LEAGUE Penguins find Flames red-hot

YSU continues to have problems winning on the road, dropping its 10th straight.
CHICAGO -- The University of Illinois-Chicago never gave Youngstown State a chance.
The Flames shot 73 percent from the field in the first half and 100 percent from behind the 3-point line, building a 25-point halftime lead en route to an 85-69 Horizon League victory over the Penguins Monday at the UIC Pavilion.
Youngstown State continues to have problems winning on the road, dropping its 10th straight. YSU is 3-14 overall and 1-6 in the Horizon League and are on a five-game losing streak.
Illinois-Chicago, which finished shooting 60 percent from the field for the game and 69 percent from behind the arc, improved to 12-8 overall and 3-3 in the Horizon.
"I was very disappointed in our effort tonight," said YSU coach John Robic. "Tonight was all about effort and we just didn't display much."
Hot start: The Penguins actually got off to a great start and connected on their first five shots from the field, including four 3-point goals, to lead 14-8 with 16 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the first half.
From that point on, YSU was out-scored 41-11 and did not score a point in the final 5:56 of the half as the Flames took a 50-25 halftime lead.
Senior guard Ryan Patton led the Penguins with 21 points, while freshman Doug Underwood added 15 and sophomore Bill Mallernee came off the bench to score 12 points.
"We've got to take a good look at our personnel and see who needs to play more and who needs to play less," added Robic.
"Give UIC credit, they got good looks and they made the shots," he continued. "I probably had the most fun coaching tonight in the final three minutes because the kids we had in there scrapped and hustled and played hard to the end."
Youngstown State shot well from the field, hitting 47 percent, and were 50 percent from behind the arc, but still not close to the Flames' statistics.
Other categories: The Penguins also out-rebounded the Flames 31-29 as Stephen Flores led the way with seven and TeJay Anderson added six, but then the Flames didn't need many rebounds with their shooting.
Youngstown State committed 18 turnovers and Illinois-Chicago scored 25 points off those turnovers, while the Flames committed 12 and the Penguins converted those into only nine points.
Patton got YSU off to a great start as he hit his first three shots, two of them 3-pointers, while Flores and Underwood also hit 3-point shots as the Penguins took a 14-6 lead.
UIC came back with a 14-2 run and took the lead for good, 20-16, with 11:30 remaining.
Youngstown State cut the lead to two after two buckets by Mallernee 22-20, but UIC went on another 13-2 run and pulled to a 35-22 lead. After Patton hit his third 3-pointer of the game with 5:56 remaining, the Penguins did not score again the rest of the half and the Flames took a 50-25 lead into the lockerroom.
Illinois-Chicago built its lead to 30 points (68-38) with just under 12 minutes remaining, but Youngstown State made one last surge and cut the margin to 17 points 72-55 with just under six minutes, but never really threatened again.
Spared: The margin would have probably been a lot worse if the Flames had converted their free throws, but they made just 8-of-22 for the game and were 2-of-11 in the second half.
The Penguins, who now have seven days off, still have two more road games on this swing. Their next game will be Jan. 28 at UW-Milwaukee and follow that at Wright State on Jan. 31. YSU won't return home until Feb. 2 when it plays host to Loyola of Chicago at 7 p.m.

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