YSU men open season with an upset of Akron
By Greg Gulas
For the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, the Youngstown State men’s basketball team defeated the Akron Zips, stopping their former Ohio Valley Conference rivals, 90-82, Saturday at the Beeghly Center.
Cameron Morse had 27 points and Matt Donlan added 20 markers as YSU shot 51 percent from the field and canned 11 of 27 shots from beyond the arc.
Taking over the game when he is needed most is a role that Morse seems to relish.
“As one of the captains of the team, I just want to do anything that I have to do for us to win, no matter what part of the game,” Morse said. “We have a lot of athletic players so when we rebound, it’s nice to run and get the fast break going.”
The game marked the second Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Doubleheader with Kent State defeating Cleveland State in the opener, 79-74 in overtime.
YSU honored former head coaches Bill Dailey and Dan Peters, and their families during a halftime ceremony as both coaches lost their battle to cancer.
In the opening half, two quick triples by Matt Donlan gave YSU the early 6-4 advantage, adding a third bucket from beyond the arc to pull to within 12-11.
Akron opened a 16-11 cushion on two free throws by Jimond Ivey at 14:25 of the half, but six straight points by Cameron Morse gave the Penguins their last lead of the half, 17-16 at the midway mark.
The Zips then went on a 9-0 run, keyed by Ivey’s five points for a 25-17 lead and after Francisco Santiago added a bucket in the lane at 8:22, the Penguins cut the margin to 25-23.
Akron opened a 38-27 lead on two free throws by Isaiah Johnson, but the Penguins closed with a 9-3 run of their own to end the half and pull to within 41-36 at intermission.
The Zips increased their lead to 45-38 at the outset of the second half on a bucket by Noah Robotham.
After a 9-0 run by the Penguins, which included two triples by Morse and another by Donlan, YSU was able to forge a 50-45 advantage.
“For me, I always want to start the game with a hot hand but I just try to read my defender and take what he gives me,” Donlan said.
The Penguins (1-0) built a 10 point lead on three different occasions in the second half, the last coming at 76-66 on a lay-up by Devin Haygood at the 6:02 mark.
A trailer in the lane by Robotham puled Akron to within 80-77, but two buckets by Morse and a slam dunk by Rahim Williams keyed a 13-5 finish to preserve the Penguins’ season opening win.
Akron held a 10-3 rebounding advantage just six minutes into the game, then settled for a 38-37 margin overall.
YSU head coach Jerry Slocum lauded his team’s defensive effort.
“I thought that we did a tremendous job defensively, especially in the second half,” Slocum said. “Akron had seven offensive rebounds in the first six and a half minutes and finished with 12 overall. To hold them to just five offensive rebounds over the last 33 minutes or so showed you the type of effort we put forth the rest of the way.”
Bobby Word had 17 points for the Zips (0-1), who were outrebounded 41-28 on the night.