Youngstown State stayed close for a half.
& lt;a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org & gt;By PETE MOLLICA & lt;/a & gt;
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown State men's basketball team needed a near-perfect effort Saturday night. They didn't come close.
The Penguins, trailing only by five at halftime, fell apart in the second half against UW-Milwaukee, the No. 1 team in the Horizon League's, and suffered an 86-61 trouncing before more than 3,000 fans at Beeghly Center.
For the Penguins (8-15, 4-8 Horizon), it was their third straight loss as the Panthers again swept the series and improved to 21-5, 12-2 Horizon.
"They are definitely the best team in this league," YSU coach John Robic said. "They have seven seniors out there playing like there is no tomorrow.
"I thought we had a chance going in at halftime trailing by five and it should have been four as we had the best free-throw shooter in the league on the line at the end," Robic said. "I was disappointed in the way we came out in the second half."
Poor foul shooting
Foul shooting was a big part of the Penguins troubles as they made just 17 of 33 attempts. Junior Adam Baumann, an 84 percent shooter and No. 2 in the league, was 3-for-6.
Baumann led the Penguins with 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds while sophomore Doug Underwood added 16 points. They were the only two Penguins in double figures.
In addition to the poor free-throw shooting, the Penguins committed 17 turnovers and shot 37 percent from the field, 32 percent in the second half.
"Defensively, we are breaking down too often and we don't have the fire power offensively to make up for it," Robic said.
The Panthers had three players in double figures, but two of them, Dylan Page and Clay Tucker combined for 52 points. Page led the way with 27 and Tucker added 25. Ronnie Jones added 14, including four 3-point shots.
The Panthers outrebounded the Penguins 42-40.
"I definitely think that Milwaukee has a good shot at winning this thing, especially since the semifinals and finals will be on their home floor," Robic said.
YSU never led in game
The Penguins never led in the contest and fell behind 5-0 right out of the gate.
YSU battled back on two Baumann goals to cut the lead to 7-6, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the night.
The Panthers went on a 10-3 run to open a 17-9 advantage with just over 13 minutes remaining.
The Penguins went on a short 7-1 run to get to within three points, 22-19. The run included a 3-pointer by senior Marlon Williamson and two Baumann buckets.
Milwaukee was back in command 29-22 with 4:05 remaining, but the Penguins fought back in the final minutes and had the opportunity to close the gap but missed three of five free throws before Baumann hit a shot at the buzzer and was fouled, but he missed the free throw and the Panthers held a 36-31 lead.
Panthers blow game open
The Panthers came out and scored the first seven points of the second half to pull to an 11-point margin 42-31. YSU got back to within seven points 48-41, but Milwaukee then went on a 10-0 run to pull ahead 58-41 and the Penguins were never in the game after that.
Milwaukee's biggest lead of the game was 27 points, 86-59 before Derrick Harris made two free throws with 42 seconds remaining to reach the final score.
The Penguins will next be in action on Wednesday when they travel to UW-Green Bay, a team that the Penguins defeated at home 77-76 on Jan. 29.
They'll take a 26-game regular-season road losing streak into that game.