YSU gashes IUPUI to snap four-game skid
By Brian Dzenis
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was the bigger team with the better record, but Youngstown State was better team Saturday night.
Except for a brief scare early in the second half, the Penguins had their way with the Jaguars in a 85-62 win. The team snapped a four-game losing streak.
YSU’s (6-15, 4-4 Horizon League) stint at the top of the conference proved to be short-lived, with a four-game losing streak coming into Saturday’s game after the Penguins started league play 3-0. Three of those losses came on the road, where the Penguins are 1-9.
“If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a genius,” Calhoun said of the team’s road woes. “Sometimes kids respond and sometimes they don’t. I just want them to see what they can become and that excites me.
The team showed flashes of the type of team Calhoun wants them to be, forcing 16 turnovers, shooting 42 percent from three and making sure the bench is contributing with 24 points from the second unit.
YSU led by as much has 24 points in the first half after going on a 22-6 run while shooting 60 percent in the first half.
The Jaguars got as close as five points away from tying the contest, but Cameron Morse got hot. He scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half.
“We had to stay calm. They were going to make a run at some point. We just needed to get another basket and a few more stops,” Morse said. “We had to stay into the game and don’t let it rattle us.”
Garrett Covington added 15 points and Braun Hartfield and Jaylen Benton each scored 12 points.
IUPUI’s top scorer was Aaron Brennan with 14 points. Despite a noticeable size advantage, the Jaguars (7-13, 4-5) were had on the glass, getting outrebounded 39-19.
“You just go the glass and you go aggressive and you get the rebound. We have Naz Bohanon, Tyree Robinson and Devin Haygood and for me, I just try to crash the glass as much as possible,” Covington said. “One of us is going to get the ball.”
Inside the final two minutes, Calhoun emptied his bench against the Jaguars. South Range graduate Dan Ritter scored his first career points as a Penguin with a three for his team’s final bucket.
A BIG-MONEY SHOT
Using a catapault-like motion, Berlin Center’s Bill Cupler made a half-court shot to win $12,000 during a media timeout just before halftime. The shot went in off a friendly bounce off the backboard to ignite the Beeghly Center.
“I haven’t shot a basketball in 20 years. It was luck,” Cupler said. “I hardly practiced. It was nothing to speak of and I think the adrenaline had me jacked up and pumped up. I had a lot of people watching me and supporting me, so it made me feel good.
“It made me want to make it even more.”
Cupler was one of two competitors in Burgan Real Estate’s “Mortgage Mania Challenge.” Cupler said he was would use the money to take his wife of 30 years, Natalie, on vacation.
Calhoun and his team didn’t witness the shot, but they certainly heard the reaction.
“I had to scream so loud in the huddle and Mark Richmond looked over at me and said ‘man, they’re more excited about the shot than the game!” Calhoun said.
YSU welcomed back former players from multiple eras of YSU basketball, including Ryan Patton, Bruce Timko, Albert Crockett, Bob Krizancic and Hubbard athletic director Chuck Montgomery. Calhoun said about 40 players returned to campus to talk to the team during their pregame walkthrough.
“We had just about all of them speak and the message was loud and clear. No. 1, you have to enjoy everyday. College is some of the best four years of your life and the most valuable thing in life is time, right? Time is really valuable and some of those guys got emotional talking to our guys and it was awesome.
“I told our staff there was no way we were losing this game in front of these players.”