By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State senior forward Kamren Belin entered Wednesday’s game as the Penguins’ second-leading scorer, but he admits too many of those points have come in the second half.
“I was talking to coach earlier this week about how my first-half production’s been down,” Belin said after an 82-58 win over visiting Thiel at Beeghly Center. “I’ve been playing horrible in the first half.
“I let the game come to me [on Wednesday] and got into a flow and it worked out perfectly.”
Belin hit two 3-pointers in the first five minutes to help the Penguins jump out to a 20-2 lead and YSU extended that lead to as many as 35 points in the second half.
Still, YSU coach Jerry Slocum wasn’t satisfied.
“Happy with the way we started, not very happy with the way we ended,” Slocum said. “That’s just being honest about it. I thought we came out and moved the ball well early in the game. I thought we shared it. I thought we guarded great.
“We had a chance to play a lot of people but to put a team on the foul line, any team, 31 times [is unacceptable].
“And then to have 13 turnovers and only 16 assists, what that means is we didn’t really share the ball like I hoped for us to share the ball.”
Belin scored a game-high 13 points to leave six Penguins in double figures but the second half too often resembled the last few minutes of an NBA blowout.
The result was a foregone conclusion — Thiel is a Division III team, after all — but with a road game against Kent State looming next week, Slocum wanted to see his team play at a high level throughout.
“There’s a level of play that I expect, whether we’re playing a great team like Eastern Kentucky or at UMass or a foe like tonight or whatever, there’s a level of play that I expect from our guys 1-14,” he said. “For me, I’m going to coach everybody for the full game time.
“Those are really important times for me, those last eight minutes in a game like tonight are really important because you have a bunch of freshmen on the floor that you are projecting to be guys that will help you in the future.”
Shawn Amiker had 12 points off the bench for the Penguins (5-1), who play Division III Westminster on Saturday morning. Ryan Weber and D.J. Cole each scored 11 points and Bobby Hain and Kendrick Perry each had 10.
Eric Mallinger, Luke Kochka and Khari Bess each scored 15 points for Thiel (1-2).
“Our goal was to come in and out-work the team,” Belin said. “Teams like this, we [sometimes] don’t take as seriously. They get the upper-hand on us in toughness and loose balls, so we didn’t want that to happen. So we came out focused.”
They just didn’t stay focused.
“Coach wasn’t too happy with the way they [younger players] played,” Belin said. “But it’s good thing they got in and got to experience [playing] in front of the home crowd.”