YOUNGSTOWN - Youngstown State saw this type of scenario in Fairborn in early December - holding a 17-point lead with 7 minutes left in the first half.
Wright State ended up rallying, beating YSU in the final seconds.
Thursday, things were different as the Penguins pulled away from the Raiders at Beeghly Center, 61-54.
Damian Eargle talks about setting Horizon League mark for blocked shots.
Blake Allen, who leads YSU in 3-pointers, made a 3 about a minute and a half into the final 20 minutes to give the Penguins a 34-32 lead - YSU's first lead since the Penguins held a 27-26 advantage with more than a minute before intermission.
Kendrick Perry's completion of a 3-point play gave YSU a 45-32 lead that capped a 13-0 run spanning 3 minutes. Perry led all scorers with 23 points, while Allen added 17.
Vance Hall led Wright State with 13 points.
Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo
Youngstown State junior and Warren G. Harding graduate Damian Eargle waits for a rebound between Wright State's Reggie Arceneaux, back, and Johann Mpondo, front, during the first half of Thursday's game at Beeghly Center.
"It happened to us over there," said Perry, whose team snapped a nine-game skid to Wright State. "We were up 15, they came back and we lost that game. We knew we had to keep our foot on the gas for all 40 minutes."
It was the combination of Allen and Perry that vaulted the Penguins (15-13, 10-7) to Thursday's victory and clinched YSU's first winning regular season since the 2000-01 season when YSU went 19-11.
YSU's defense on Wright State (13-17, 7-10) wasn't too shabby either.
YSU junior and Warren G. Harding graduate Damian Eargle, with his five blocks, set an overall and league single-season record for the Horizon League. That gives Eargle 113 for the year.
Eargle ranks second in YSU history for blocked shots for a season behind Ricky Tunstall (1982-83) and his 138 swats.
"Defense is really important when you have an offensive game like we did," said Eargle, whose team shot 36 percent before intermission and 57 percent after halftime. "We just have to play defense and let the offense come to us.
"Defense turns into offense."
Raiders' top scorer Julius Mays, who averaged about 14 a contest, was held to seven points and two at the break. Perry had a lot to do with that.
"Not only does he get some accolades offensively, but he did a tremendous job on Mays," YSU coach Jerry Slocum said.
Perry eventually put and thoughts of a Wright State comeback to rest.
His 6-foot, jumper inside the foul lane gave YSU a little breathing room with a 59-53 lead with 1:45 left and added two free throws with 49.6 seconds remaining for a 61-54 advantage.
"In moments like that, I try to put the team on my shoulders," Perry said. "We did a good job executing the play. When I saw the opening, I thought, 'Be aggressive like I always am.' God was with me on the shot and I made it."
PLAYOFFS?: Also, YSU came close to clinching a first-round home Horizon League Tournament game on Tuesday. However, Green Bay held off Loyola in overtime Thursday, 73-70. A Green Bay loss would've secured a YSU home game Tuesday. The Penguins can clinch a home game with a win against Detroit on Saturday afternoon in Youngstown and YSU can, with a lot of help, get the second seed in the tournament. "First thing I said when I went into the locker room is, 'Don't be satisfied. We have one day to prepare for a very good Detroit team.' We can relish this victory for the rest of the night, but (today) we have to come in hungrier."
GETTING BACK UP: With about 2:36 left in the first half, Perry got tangled up near the hoop and was slammed to the floor like a rag doll for the third time by a couple of Wright State interior players. He sat up, but struggled to do so. After about a minute or two on the floor, Perry lumbered up and began to limp. He continued playing. "It wasn't anything major," Perry said. "It was just he kneed me in my thigh. The pain, it instantly hurt. I couldn't walk on it for a little bit, but I just went into halftime in the locker room and put more pressure on it. I think I came out more aggressive in the second half."
INTENSITY LEVELS: The intense play was the norm for the first half as the Raiders cut off the driving lanes and kept the Penguins out on the interior, where they are usually proficient. Not so in the first half as YSU was 3 of 11 with Allen, Perry and Canfield product Mike Podolsky each hitting one. YSU was 3 of 8 from 3-point range in the second half. "They're a good defense team as well," Eargle said. "They close up in the gaps and it was hard for us to drive or find our rhythm. It was a different story in the second half for YSU defensively as well. "I thought we played a little tight in the first half," Slocum said.. "We knew the importance of the game. We held the ball too much. Thought in the second half we did a tremendous job on the defensive end, which led to offense for us. We're a pretty good basketball team when we can push it, run and go."