Perfect time for Penguins
YSU ended its 31-game road losing streak in the Horizon League tournament opener.
VINDICATOR STAFF/WIRE REPORT
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- The Youngstown State men's basketball team found the perfect time to snap a 31-game road losing streak Tuesday night.
The Penguins got good offensive production from three players and beat UW-Green Bay 65-61 in the opening round of the Horizon League tournament.
YSU (9-19), which had not won on the road for over two years, will now play Illinois-Chicago (20-7) in Milwaukee Friday at 8:30 p.m.
The Penguins, who won for the first time in their last eight games, had dropped four straight tournament games.
"It has been a long time since we've won on the road," said Penguins coach John Robic. "We haven't talked about it a whole lot. It's tough to lose that many on the road."
The team's last regular-season road victory came on Feb. 17, 2001.
Senior point guard Marlon Williamson was questionable for the game after he bruised a heel in the season finale Saturday. The Phoenix (10-20) wished he didn't play.
Williamson shot 8-for-13 from the field, scored six 3-pointers, and finished with 22 points.
"There's not a better time to get the monkey off our backs," YSU assistant coach Eric Skeeters said.
"This is all a credit to Marlon Williamson."
Aiding the attack was sophomore Doug Underwood, who shot 5-for-14 with three 3-pointers. He scored 16 points.
Junior Bill Mallernee added a season-high 10 points.
The game was close throughout, with eight ties and 11 lead changes. The final deadlock came with eight minutes, 40 seconds to go when UW-GB's Greg Babcock hit a layup to knot it at 51.
An Underwood 3-pointer pushed the Penguin advantage to 57-51 and the lead got as large as eight, 63-55, when Williamson found 3-point success with 1:53 to play.
"Coach wanted us to go out with a real team effort and leave it all on the floor," Underwood said.
"We stuck together and got it done. We pulled through."
When Terry Parker hit a jumper with 37.4 seconds remaining, YSU's lead was cut to three, 64-61.
But the Phoenix, who enjoyed great success at the foul line, failed to get to the charity line the rest of the way.
UW-GB made 24 of 26 free throws to offset YSU's goal advantage, 24-17.
"It was a total team effort tonight," Skeeters said. "We did a great job of going after loose balls.
"It's March; anything can happen."
Each team put together 11-point scoring spurts but they had to settle for a 31-all deadlock at the break.
The Penguins trailed 13-7 when Williamson went to work.
Two Williamson jumpers, including a 3-pointer, capped an 11-0 run and gave YSU an 18-13 lead.
The Phoenix answered with their own offensive explosion after Williamson and Underwood canned consecutive 3-pointers for a five-point cushion, 24-19.
Babcock, who finished with 19 points, scored five points in the run for UW-GB, putting the Phoenix up 31-26.
Mallernee scored the final five points of the half.
The Penguins, the lowest-scoring team in the conference (62.6 points per game) this year, held the Phoenix to 31.5 percent from the floor (17-of-54).
YSU had more rebounds, 45-35, led by TeJay Anderson with eight caroms.