By Chuck Housteau
The Penguins came out flat and were crushed by Horizon League-foe Cleveland State.
YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State Penguins started the new year with a disastrous night of basketball Saturday at Beeghly Center.
“We had a horrible night,” said YSU coach Jerry Slocum after the Penguins dropped 70-48 Horizon League decision to Cleveland State.
“I am very, very disappointed in our performance,” Slocum said. “Very, very disappointed in our effort and our execution.
“There was nothing in that game that made me feel very good about our basketball team.”
The Penguins (5-8) remained winless in four tries in Horizon League action this season.
Cleveland State (5-10, 1-2) slapped plenty of defense on the Penguins early in the contest and Youngstown could not handle it.
The Vikings pressed YSU from the start, similar to what Robert Morris did to the Penguins in their last outing, and the result was nearly the same.
YSU fell behind 15-2 in the first six minutes of the contest but this time the Penguins could not recover.
YSU turned the ball over five times in that span and made only one of nine shots to start the contest.
“We played extremely poor,” Slocum said of the start. “I feared after a tough loss, a hangover after the Robert Morris game was not a good thing for us.
“It’s very disappointing.”
The Penguins continued to struggle against a Cleveland State team that was facing a lot of early adversity themselves and needed a win very bad.
“We’ve played a very tough non-league schedule for a mid-major,” said Cleveland State coach Gary Waters.
“We’ve played teams like Ohio State, West Virginia and Kansas State and now we are playing in the Horizon League where we should be much better.
“I expected us to be a lot better when we got into the league portion of our schedule.”
Waters said the defense the Vikings displayed was impressive.
“That’s our game,” Waters said. “We like to pressure teams and force them into turnovers and we did that early to set the tone.
“Our guys played good defense the whole game.”
Cleveland State limited YSU to just 36 percent shooting (18-50) from the field and the Penguins could only connect on 1 of 8 shots from the 3-point line.
The Penguins did manage to get to the line 19 times but only made 11 for a low of 57.9 percent.
Junior Norris Cole led the Vikings with 20 points and 10 assists while Jarred Cunningham scored 13 points.
Former Ursuline High standout, D’Aundray Brown just missed a double-double by scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Cleveland State out-rebounded the Penguins 44-31.
The Penguins made their only run at the Vikings early in the second half by going on a 7-0 run that cut the CSU lead to 46-30.
Sirlester Martin, who led the Penguins in scoring with 15 points led the charge before Cleveland State regrouped and scored the next six points to push the lead back out to 20 points, 52-32.
DeAndre Mays and Kelvin Bright each scored 11 points for YSU while Martin led the team in rebounds with eight.
YSU will try to regroup in time to face the University of Chicago-Illinois on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.