Late Hoop, Blocked Shot Send Penguins Past Panthers
Jan. 20, 2012
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Ashen Ward put Youngstown State ahead in the final minute and Damian Eargle blocked the potential game-tying shot in the closing seconds as Youngstown State pulled out a 68-66 win over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Friday night at the Beeghly Center.
The Panthers (13-7, 6-2 Horizon) trailed by 13 points early in the second half before rallying to take a 62-59 lead with just under four minutes to play. But, the Penguins grabbed the lead back for good on Ward's follow-up basket with 32 second left and UWM could not cash in on its final possession.
Milwaukee got 18 points and eight rebounds from Kaylon Williams while James Haarsma added 14, Paris Gulley 13 and Ryan Allen 11. The loss dropped the Panthers into a first-place tie with Valparaiso and Cleveland State, with Milwaukee playing at CSU Sunday.
Blake Allen scored 27 points for Youngstown State (10-8, 5-3), which also got 10 points and 10 rebounds from Damian Eargle. Eargle was in the middle of each of the key final plays for YSU, as he jarred the ball loose on an offensive rebound to give Ward the go-ahead layup. Then he recorded his fourth block of the night on Meier's late shot.
In the end, UWM dug too deep a hole early on and missed too many free throws in the waning moments to pull out the win.
"We were down big and it looked like every little bounce was going their way. But we found a way to have a chance at the end," UWM head coach Rob Jeter said. "It really came down to free throws. It's something that has been bothering us all year. It's nothing that we've been shying away from all season. We just have to make free throws."
Milwaukee wound up making just 10-of-21 from the line in the game, including 6-of-15 in the second half. Meanwhile, Youngstown State made 15-of-21 for the game, including 12-of-17 in the second 20 minutes.
What did give the Panthers a chance was their second-half defense. Allen had 22 points and didn't miss a shot in the first half but wound up with only five points in the final half. As a team, YSU made just seven field goals in the second 20 minutes and scored only 27 points.
"We just stepped it up," Jeter said. "We talked about the energy they were going to have in this building. There were some tough shots made in the first half. You just can't be discouraged, and we did a much better job in the second half."
After Ward scored on a follow-up with 32 seconds left, Milwaukee used a timeout with the ball in the frontcourt. Williams took a deep three with about eight seconds remaining and Meier dug out the rebound. But his shot attempt was swatted away, with the Penguins claiming the rebound and sprinting ahead to run out the clock.
"We just wanted to make sure we got a look at about eight seconds, with enough time to get a rebound on the shot," Jeter said. "We got the rebound on the shot, but we went at the best shot-blocker in the league."
UWM started the game well. The Panthers held an early 9-4 lead after a layin by Tony Meier and then led 18-13 on a Kyle Kelm layup with 11:20 left. But Youngstown State, or more specifically Allen, unloaded on Milwaukee from there. His third 3-pointer of the half pushed the lead to 25-19 and his fourth made it 31-21. Milwaukee did crawl back to within eight points on a couple of occasions, but Allen buried a no-look three just before the horn to put Youngstown up 41-30 at the break.
The Penguins scored the first hoop of the second half to take their largest lead of the night, but Milwaukee rallied with 11-straight points to close within 43-41. YSU had the answer, responding with nine in a row of its own to go back up 52-41.
The lead eventually hit 12 before UWM rallied again, with a three by Williams pulling Milwaukee within three at 57-54. Williams then gave the Panthers their first lead on the second half, burying another three with 4:33 remaining to put Milwaukee ahead 61-59. The teams traded the advantage after that and the contest wound up knotted at 66 after Kendrick Perry made a free throw with 1:47 remaining
Milwaukee had an empty possession the next time it had the ball and Perry missed a three for YSU from the top of the key. But Eargle helped Ward get the rebound, and his put-back made it 68-66, setting the stage for the closing seconds.
The Panthers wrap up their weekend stay in Ohio with a Sunday afternoon contest at Cleveland State. The contest tips off at 1 p.m. CST and can be seen live on Sports32 in eastern Wisconsin.