FORT WAYNE, Ind. — For the second game in a row, Youngstown State found itself chashing throughout the second half, only to come up short in the end.
A disastrous start that included nine turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes did YSU in, as the Penguins were defeated in Horizon League play by Purdue Fort Wayne on Sunday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 82-71.
The loss concludes a season sweep against PFW.
In all, Purdue Fort Wayne (11-8, 6-4) scored 29 points off of 17 YSU turnovers, but the majority of those came in the first half and especially during the game’s first eight minutes.
“Just reckless, careless with the basketball. We were down 17-3, and I don’t know how many points they got off turnovers (at that juncture), but I think at halftime they had 20 points from turnovers,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “So you have to slow down and play winning basketball. It’s hard to watch, honestly. When you turn the ball over that much, nobody wants to watch that.”
YSU (10-10, 4-6) was able to tie the game twice in the second half, but never got over the hump to take a lead in the game. That surge came by way of a hot shooting day, as the Penguins went 28-for-49 from the field and 12-of-21 from 3-point range.
It was a bright spot to Calhoun, but those giveaways left it all for naught.
Will Dunn led the charge with an 8-for-8 performance from the field. He scored a game-high 20 points and added four rebounds. Calhoun mentioned the sophomore from Quincy, Michigan, had about 25 people in attendance to see him.
“He’s a good kid. He’s really what the student-athlete experience is supposed to be about: development, getting better each day, being a good teammate, not pouting. He just does all the right stuff,” Calhoun said, later adding, “Moving forward, he’ll probably play more and more. It just takes one game to get you going. With him, it’s been confidence, and that should be at an all-time high right now.”
Tevin Olison added 17 points for the Penguins, while Dwayne Cohill chipped in 12 points and five assists.
Youngstown State trailed 17-4 early before coming out of its trance to rally back into the mix. The Penguins trailed just 32-25 at half, and twice managed to tie the game in the second half.
But, those rallies only got YSU back into the mix, and Purdue Fort Wayne responded each time with runs of its own to maintain its advantage.
The Mastodons were paced by Jalon Pipkins’ 19 points, while Damian Chong Qui had 18 points. Chong Qui landed the final dagger for PFW, a 3-pointer with 50 seconds to go that put the Mastodons up nine. Jarred Godfrey (13 points) and Bobby Planutis (11 points) also were in double figures.
PFW was equally as efficient from the field, sinking 31 of its 58 attempts and landing 9 of 21 shots from deep. The Mastodons only committed eight turnovers, and in the first half shot 11 more attempts than YSU.
The loss brings to an end the toughest stretch of YSU’s season. The Penguins were tasked with most of the upper half of the conference in the last couple weeks, but went 1-5 during that span.
Now, YSU sits at eighth overall in the league standings.
Part of that, Calhoun says, is playing the toughest teams in the Horizon and not winning in close games.
But, he added, “I also think it’s a lot of what we’re doing. We’re very careless. In all the 10 years I’ve been in the business, I haven’t seen a team turn the ball over and be as careless with the ball as our team. So you have to fix that (first). Then you have to find ways to win and stay together during these crunch times. We had some older players that didn’t play real well tonight. That hurts.”
The schedule does relent, at least for a little bit. YSU will host Green Bay and Milwaukee this week, two teams it’s already beaten, and then visits IUPUI and UIC, two of the teams at the bottom of the league standings.
“You just want to finish this season on a good note,” Calhoun said of entering the regular season’s final month. “You want to try to get some momentum, try to actually get some people inside the Beeghly Center. We’ve lost so many close games, we don’t want the morale of our team to be down. So we have to try to figure this thing out.”