The Penguins had just one foul shot during their ninth loss in the last 10 games.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Don't call it a moral victory.
After all, Youngstown State's 62-56 loss to Illinois-Chicago on Monday in front of 1,428 fans at the Beeghly Center was the ninth setback for YSU in their last 10 games.
But Coach John Robic was able to dig some positives out of a close-but-not-quite effort, even on a night when his team shot exactly one free throw.
"It's the same result, a loss, but it's a different kind of loss if that makes sense," Robic said. "The guys in our locker room are disappointed, but I think we grew up a little tonight."
The Penguins (3-9, 1-2 Horizon League) battled back after falling behind to the Flames (5-7, 1-2) by at least nine points in each half, mostly on the strength of 8-of-19 shooting from 3-point range -- one of their best nights from behind the arc all season.
Settling for jumpers
"We hit some clutch shots," said guard Quin Humphrey, who along with Zach Silverman led YSU in scoring with 11 points each. "But our issue is consistency. We settled for too many jump shots and should have been more aggressive going to the hole."
That was a factor in the Penguins' nearly total absence from the foul line. Guard John Mends missed YSU's lone free throw attempt, the front end of a one-and-one with 5.7 seconds remaining.
The YSU sports information staff couldn't determine Monday night whether that was a team record for fewest free throws in a game.
"We took a lot of jump shots and they played zone [defense]," Robic said. "That was pretty much the game."
But the Penguins hit enough outside shots to stay competitive throughout.
Hot from outside
Three 3-pointers by YSU in the final three minutes of the first half deadlocked the score at 27-all, the ninth tie of the half.
Mends, who finished with nine points, drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:58 remaining. Silverman just beat the shot clock with a rainbow 3 from the top of the key at 2:06. And Humphrey scored from the deep right corner with 31 seconds to go in the half.
"I told the team at the half that this was the first time we had fought back to even after we got down," Robic said. "They could have quit, but they didn't."
The Penguins had to do the same thing in the second half.
UIC forward Jovan Stefanov, who failed to score in the first half, scored almost all of his game-high 16 points in the opening six minutes of the second half, staking the Flames to a 42-32 lead.
The Penguins trimmed it to 55-53 on Derrick Harris' 3-pointer with 2:44 to play, but couldn't get any closer.
"We're struggling right now, but we don't have anything to hang our heads about," Humphrey said. "We played hard, but we can't seem to get over the hump."
Cedric Banks scored 12 points and Elliott Poole added 11 for Illinois-Chicago.
YSU remained winless in 13 games all-time against UIC. ... Senior forward Brian Radakovich missed his second straight game with a back sprain. ... The Penguins play their next two games on the road, on Thursday at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Saturday at Cleveland State. The next home game is Jan. 12 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.