The junior guard had 23 points in a 74-68 win over Eastern Michigan.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State junior Derrick Harris has been fighting the flu bug and has not practiced for three days.
He also couldn't find the shooting range during warm-ups Saturday afternoon, but once the game started the 6-foot-2 guard from Cambridge, Mass., was nearly unstoppable.
Harris scored a game-high and career-best 23 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 from 3-point range, leading the Penguins to a 74-60 victory over Eastern Michigan as part of the ESPN Bracket Buster Saturday before just over 2,000 fans at the Beeghly Center.
Snaps losing streak
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Penguins (5-20).
"I came out and couldn't hit a shot in warm-ups," Harris said. "But once the game started my teammates did a great job and I got a lot of uncontested looks."
YSU coach John Robic was pleased with his team's effort.
"Our first half tonight was probably one of the best we've had in the six years I've been here," Robic said.
"You look at our record and you have to admire the character of this team. They've never stopped playing and in the last month we've gotten a whole lot better," Robic added.
The Penguins hit 51 percent of their shots in the first half (14-of-27) and pulled to a 45-26 halftime advantage. They leveled off in the second half, shooting 43.5 percent (10-of-23) and 48 percent for the game, including 60 percent from 3-point range (9-of-15).
"Derrick had just a great game," said Robic. "He's had the flu and didn't practice the last three days. He stepped up tonight like he needed to and it made the difference."
Harris was supported by seniors Khari McQueen and Brian Radakovich, who added 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Penguins' top scorer, sophomore Quin Humphrey, was held to nine points and he scored six in the final six minutes of the game.
"It wasn't that Quin had an off game, it was more of a great job that Eastern Michigan did on him," Robic said. "But give him credit, he didn't force it and instead passed off and set up some of his teammates."
The Penguins only trailed once, 3-2, in the first two minutes, but then took the lead on a McQueen layup and after the Eagles tied the score at 7, went on a 9-1 run to pull in front 16-8 with 14:15 remaining and were never threatened again.
The Penguins went on a 21-6 run midway in the first half and took a 37-16 lead with 6:28 remaining.
Eagles fight back
Eastern Michigan scored the first seven points of the second half and were within nine points (50-41) with 13:22 remaining.
The closest the Eagles got was seven points, 59-52, at the 6:27 mark, before YSU built the lead back to 14 points, 69-55, making 5-of-7 free throws -- three by Humphrey and two by Harris.
"This game was just as important to us as a league game," Robic said. "We're not good enough to take anybody lightly, but maybe Eastern Michigan did today."
The Eagles (12-13) were led by Markus Austin with 12 points and Darryl Garrett with 11.
The Penguins play their final home game of the year Wednesday against Butler in a Horizon League contest. The 7 p.m. tip-off will be preceded by Senior Night festivities.