YOUNGSTOWN - It's not like Youngstown State hasn't seen this situation before, heading down the stretch with the game either tied or separated by a few points.
It happened against James Madison and North Dakota State during last week's Legends Classic in Pittsburgh. Both games, the Penguins lost.
Wednesday, in a home game against Kent State, the result was the same - another close game, leading to another loss.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Youngstown State’s D.J. Cole drives to the basket as Kent’s Kellon Thomas defends during first-half action. The Penguins lost to the Golden Flashes, 85-78, on Wednesday night.
The Golden Flashes were 10 of 11 from the foul line during overtime to hand YSU its fourth straight loss, an 85-78 setback at Beeghly Center.
"Another great job of those guys making their free throws in overtime," KSU coach Rob Senderoff said of the overtime foul shooting.
YSU cut the lead to 78-76 on Kendrick Perry's two free throws with 2:05 left in the extra session. Perry scored a game-high 22 points.
The score stayed that way for the next minute and a half with Melvin Tabb, who had 15 points and seven boards off the bench, turning over the ball. YSU was poised to tie the game in the final minute, but Blake Allen's turnover gave the ball back to KSU. Randal Holt, who had 14 points, added two of six straight free-throws made by KSU in the overtime session.
"I think we've got to get better at finishing games," Perry said.
It was another lost opportunity for YSU (3-4).
"We've got to play better in big moments," YSU coach Jerry Slocum said. "It's as simple as that. We've got to get better rebounds. We had three great stops in overtime. All three of those stops, they got an offensive rebound or a putback. We can't do that. We took two really bad shots right after those possessions.
"You can add it up all you want, but we're not playing good in big moments. We've had our opportunity right now, as I said to the kids. I feel we've beaten ourselves in all of our losses. We've got to correct some things. There's a lot of basketball to be played."
After leading 36-34 in the first half, YSU saw the Golden Flashes (5-2) running roughshod over a stagnant YSU defense for a 13-3 run and take a 47-39 lead with 15:42 remaining.
YSU guard Blake Allen, who came off the bench after sitting down for a stretch in the second half, hit a jumper and a 3 to knot the game at 63 with 5:22 remaining. Allen had 10 points.
D.J. Cole's feed to Damian Eargle in the post with 2:36 left gave YSU a short-lived 65-63 lead following two free throws from the Warren G. Harding graduate. Eargle had 16 points nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
Kamren Belin made 1 of 2 from the line with 1:12 remaining to tie the game at 68.
From there, Eargle grabbed a rebound off Chris Evans' miss with 50 seconds left. Evans led KSU with 19 points.
Perry drove the lane 25 seconds later, but couldn't get the layup to fall after weaving his way through the KSU interior.
The Golden Flashes then stalled after crossing the time line and called time out with 15.3 seconds left.
Holt hoisted a 3 with 3 seconds remaining, but the shot careened off the left side where Perry rebounded the ball and heaved a desperation 3 down the court - sending it to overtime.
That said, Evans and Holt were key for KSU's success.
"Those two guys are quality seniors," Slocum said. "Both of those guys played very well."
In the first half, KSU shot 4 of 6 from 3-point range and ended 5 of 10 at intermission. The Golden Flashes were 7 of 15 from beyond the arc, while YSU shot 4 of 20.
"We tried to close out their shooters," Perry said. "That opened up some driving lanes for them. We played good defense. We just didn't finish a rebound, at times, when we needed to. For the most part, we executed well, except for a couple of plays."
The Penguins couldn't get much going outside the arc as they were 1 of 10 at the break. The only make for YSU was Allen's 3 that bounced on the back of the rim, up high past the backboard and shot clock, bouncing softly again on the back of the rim and in the basket with 6 minutes remaining.
"We obviously didn't shoot the ball well from the 3 line," Slocum said.
YSU took a 34-29 lead with 2 minutes left on Perry's two free throws. However, KSU closed the gap to 36-34 at half. Eargle and Perry had 10 points each at break.
However, Senderoff said YSU's fortune will change soon.
"Youngstown, at the end of the year, you're going to see them with 17-18 wins," he said. "I think they're very good. For us to come on the road and beat them here, that's a great win for us."
To win at YSU, the Golden Flashes had to make every possession count.
"We had to value every possession and play it was like the last possession of the game," Holt said.
INJURY UPDATE: KSU's Ortiz injured under YSU's basket with 2:09 left, hobbled off court favoring right ankle.
"We'll see (today)," Senderoff said. "He'll get some X-rays and treatment. We're hoping it's just a sprain, but we won't know until (today)."
BENCH PLAY: KSU outscored YSU's bench 27-10. Tabb had 15 of the Golden Flashes' points outside of the starting five. Cole had five points to lead the YSU bench players.
"I think our guys have played well off the bench this year," Slocum said. "... Out of the nine guys that played, eight of them are 10 minutes or above. So, I don't think that's an issue.
"... Do I wish we shot better? Yea. Do I wish we weren't 4 for 20 (from 3)? Yes. We shot 42 percent (from the field) and were 4 for 20."
Perry added the starters are not getting fatigued, either.
"The guys I play with, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world - one through 14," Perry said. "Coach is doing well with his game play. We've got guys in good positions to score. I guess their shots weren't falling tonight.
"I don't think fatigue is a factor for the starters."
NEXT UP: YSU travels to Bowling Green Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff. The game can be hear live on 570-AM WKBN with WGH graduate Robb Schmitt providing the play-by-play.
Meanwhile, the Golden Flashes return home for a game with Princeton. Saturday's game starts at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 640-AM WHLO.