YSU improved to 3-2 and will take on Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon.
By Pete Mollica
YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State men’s basketball team did all that was expected of them Tuesday night against Division III Geneva College, rolling to an 88-47 win before 1,469 fans at Beeghly Center.
Now the work begins for the Penguins.
YSU (3-2) will now go on the road for five straight games beginning Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh and will have three Horizon League games during that five-game span.
Tuesday night the Penguins shot the ball well against their overmatched opponents, hitting 50.8 percent from the field and 47.8 from the 3-point line.
“Our offense is finally catching up to our defense,” said Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum, who coached for nine seasons at Geneva and won over 200 games with the Golden Tornadoes.
Geneva’s current head coach Jeff Santarsiero was an assistant under Slocum and took over the job when Slocum left to go to Gannon College, his last stop before taking the YSU job in 2005.
“We finally shot the ball a little better,” Slocum added. “But with five big games on the road coming up we definitely have to do a better job at the free throw line.”
The Penguins made just 13 of 20 free throw attempts, but hit on 8-of-10 in the second half.
The Penguins finished with four players in double figures led by senior DeAndre Mays with 18 points, while sophomores Ashen Ward and Vance Cooksey each added 11 and junior Vytas Sulskis chipped in with 10.
The Penguins outrebounded the Tornadoes 39-31 and the YSU defense forced them into 21 turnovers, which resulted in 28 points. The Penguins committed just nine turnover and Geneva got just two points from them.
The Golden Tornadoes (1-3) were led by former Mineral Ridge High standout T.J. Bevilacqua, who had 17 points, while Rich Colick added 10.
“I’m feeling real good about this team right now,” added Slocum. “We shared the ball very well tonight and were very good defensively, better than we’ve ever been. I think our players are hungry and that’s what I want from them.”
Ward said that the Penguins are getting more and more confident with their shooting.
“That confidence comes from all the hard work that we’ve been putting in at practice,” Ward said. “Pitt will be a challenge for us, but we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”
Tuesday’s contest was close for the first five minutes and Geneva actually led most of those early minutes.
The Tornadoes built a 7-4 margin before the Penguins finally took the lead for keeps 8-7 on a Mays basket and then the Penguins went on a 15-4 run to take a 23-11 advantage. YSU led 39-23 at intermission.
After Geneva scored the first two baskets of the second half to cut the lead to 39-28, the Penguins took over the game and totally dominated.
They started with an 8-0 run to build the lead to 47-28 and then had another run of 12-0 to grab a 64-35 margin.
After Geneva scored five straight points, they then went cold from everywhere and didn’t score from 8:23 until 2:38 and the Penguins were running off 17 unanswered points and pulling to an 81-40 advantage.
Both coaches emptied their benches over the final six minutes of the contest.
YSU’s biggest lead was 43 points, 88-45 with just over a minute to play.