Youngstown State beats Milwaukee, reaches 15 wins for 2nd straight year
By Joe scalzo
It’s time to play “Name that year.”
Here are your clues:
The Kansas City Royals won the World Series. (Seriously. It happened.)
David Letterman debuted his first Top 10 list. (“Top 10 words that almost rhyme with peas.”)
Michael J. Fox starred in “Back to the Future” and another Michael J (Jordan) was finishing up his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls.
It was 1985. And it was the last time the Youngstown State men’s basketball team won at least 15 games in back-to-back years.
Sparked by a near-flawless performance by Kendrick Perry and a career-high 18 points from D.J. Cole, the Penguins cruised past Milwaukee 94-80 at Beeghly Center to reach the 15-win milestone for the second straight year, and just the fifth time since 1985.
“It’s where we want to be,” said Penguins coach Jerry Slocum, who is 89-147 in eight seasons with the team. “Obviously, we’re not done yet. There’s a lot of basketball to be played. But it’s something that our guys are proud of and they’re working hard at.”
Perry scored 25 points (on 11-of-16 shooting, no less) to go with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and zero turnovers for YSU (15-11, 7-6 Horizon League), which led by as many as 25 in the second half.
YSU shot 67 percent from the field in the first half to take a 48-36 lead and finished with 19 assists to just nine turnovers.
“It’s about moving the ball,” said Cole, who had five assists. “We move the ball, we’re gonna get open shots. We made that extra pass tonight and that’s why we got so many open shots.”
Blake Allen added 17 points and Kamren Belin scored 15 for the Penguins, who were playing without senior Damian Eargle (broken nose) for the first time in Eargle’s three-year YSU career. He has also been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Green Bay.
Freshman Bobby Hain started for Eargle and scored six points and junior Fletcher Larson (who had literally played just one minute in 2013) added six points in 18 minutes before fouling out.
“I thought Fletch played a great game tonight,” Slocum said. “He’s been playing a lot better in practice. When you have Damian and Bobby, he’s kind of been waiting his turn. But I thought he did a great job tonight defensively.”
Youngstown State actually won at least 15 games in back-to-back-to-back seasons: 1982-83 (15 wins), 83-84 (18 wins) and 84-85 (19 wins). The Penguins won 16 games last year.
Getting to 16, at least this weekend, will be a challenge. On Sunday, YSU hosts Green Bay and its 7-foot-1 junior center, Alec Brown — a likely first-round NBA draft pick.
“You have to shoot the ball well against them,” Slocum said. “Obviously, we’re a little thin [up front]. Damian really bothered Brown [in previous games].
“We’ve got our work cut out for us.”