Wednesday, March 3, 2004
The Penguins couldn't overcome a big deficit in a 56-46 loss.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- All season long the Youngstown State men's basketball team has been digging itself into a hole and then trying to climb out.
It was no different in Saturday's regular-season home finale at Beeghly Center.
The Penguins (8-19, 4-12 Horizon League) fell behind 15-0 over the first seven minutes of its league contest with Detroit, and were never able to get out of that hole, dropping a 56-46 contest before a season-best crowd of 4,600.
A win or loss would have made no difference in the Penguins' place in the Horizon League standings, as they were entrenched in seventh place and their 4-12 mark equals the league record they posted last season.
Horizon tourney next
YSU will now enter into league tournament play Tuesday when they travel to Butler for an opening round game at 7 p.m. The Penguins lost both regular-season meetings with the Bulldogs, 67-66 in overtime at Beeghly and 81-76 at Butler.
"We didn't play well tonight, especially our start," said YSU coach John Robic. "It was a great crowd and I wished we could have given our three seniors a better sendoff.
"We were intimidated right off the start tonight by Detroit which is a big, strong team," he said. "They men, I think some of them are older than I am.
"When you hold a team to 41 percent shooting and force 24 turnovers you expect more, but then you look at our 30.8 percent shooting and 25 turnovers and you know why," Robic said.
Played better later on
The Penguins actually outscored the Bulldogs over the final 30 minutes of the contest, but they could never make up that big 15-0 difference.
YSU did not get a player in double figures, although senior TeJay Anderson, freshman Quin Humphrey and junior Brian Radakovich all finished with nine points. Senior Adam Baumann led all rebounders with nine, but the Penguins were out-rebounded 35-26.
Detroit, the No. 5 seed in the upcoming tournament, improved to 17-10 overall and 10-6 in the Horizon League. The Titans were led by Elijah Warren with 17 points and Willie Wallace with 11.
The Penguins just couldn't do anything right over the first seven minutes of the contest, as they committed eight turnovers and missed four shots before Radakovich finally scored with 13:21 left in the half.
The junior from Steubenville followed his first goal with a 3-point shot for a 5-0 run, the biggest the Penguins had in the first 20 minutes, but Detroit then scored five straight to up the lead to 20-5.
The Penguins never reached double digits until the 4:25 mark of the half, when Radakovich again scored to cut the lead to 27-11. The Penguins trailed 34-20 at intermission.
Penguins rally back
YSU was still trailing 44-27 with 11 minutes remaining in the game when it finally started to click, and the Titans hit a cold streak at the same time.
The Penguins reeled off nine straight points and with 7:14 remaining pulled to within eight points 44-36. But that was as close as they would get.
Detroit came right back and scored six unanswered points to pull back on top 50-36 and the Penguins never really threatened again.
Robic feels the Penguins got the best draw in the upcoming tournament playing Butler.
"We've played them well the last five times we've played them and we feel comfortable playing in Hinkle Fieldhouse," he added.
Should the Penguins get past Butler in the opening round of the tournament they would then move to Chicago for the second and third round games at Illinois-Chicago. Butler was selected to host those games, but only if they advanced to the second round.
The tournament championship game will be played at the site of the highest remaining seeded team, unless Butler is in the championship game, then it would be played in Indianapolis.