The teams have lost a combined nine consecutive games.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The new year has not been very kind to the Youngstown State men's and women's basketball teams.
But neither was the schedule maker.
The teams have combined to drop nine consecutive games during a stretch dating to late December.
The women wrapped up a four-game road trip Saturday with a lethargic showing against Wright State to go 0-for-4. The men are winless in their past five contests after playing five games in 11 days from Dec. 29 to Jan. 8.
The teams look for their first wins in 2005 tonight during a Horizon League doubleheader at Beeghly Center. The women are scheduled to tip off at 5:15 p.m. against Loyola of Chicago with the men's game against league favorite UW-Milwaukee to follow at 7:35 p.m.
Coach remains optimistic
Despite his team's recent woes, men's coach John Robic is upbeat.
"It is natural to get down, and I'm disappointed every time we don't win," Robic said during a Tuesday press conference. "[But] we had a great practice on Monday and really got after it and that was very encouraging. And we'll get back at it today [Tuesday].
"We haven't had much practice time of late. It is good to be able to get out there and teach."
The Penguins (3-11, 1-4) face a tough opponent in UW-Milwaukee.
The defending regular season champion is 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the Horizon League and tied for second place in the conference with Wright State, one game behind UW-Green Bay.
"They present a lot of problems," said Robic. "They will press us at times. They have a great player in [senior guard Ed] McCants. And [junior forward] Joah Tucker presents a problem in the post."
McCants leads the Horizon League in scoring, averaging 17 points and 3.38 3-pointers per game. He is also the reigning conference player of the week after scoring 74 points in three games this past week, including a career-high 38 points Jan. 3 against Detroit.
McCants and Tucker were selected to the preseason all-league team.
Youngstown State counters with a young lineup still learning how to play together. Sophomore Quin Humphrey is fourth in the league in scoring at 15 ppg; fellow sophomore Derrick Harris leads the Horizon in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.2 percent (19-of-44).
Senior Brian Radakovich will also be in the lineup for the second consecutive game after sitting out the previous three with a back injury.
The women's team looks for its second league win of the season against a Loyola squad it has yet to beat after seven tries.
"It is not hard to get up for Loyola. It is a rivalry for this group," said YSU women's coach Tisha Hill at Tuesday's press conference. "Our kids have made it known they are hungry. Of all the teams, this is the one they are hungry for."
The senior-laden Penguins (6-8, 1-3) will look to standout Jen Perugini to lead the effort against the visiting Ramblers from Chicago.
"She is [our] most consistent player," said Hill. "She is not trying to do anything extra, just playing her game.
"When we get more players to do that we will be pretty tough."
Perugini averages 14.4 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. She is 15th on the university's all-time scoring list with 1,014 points, and is fifth in rebounding with 766.
Loyola (4-11, 1-3) has lost eight of its past nine games, including its past three.