YOUNGSTOWN - The Youngstown State men's basketball team used a strong second half to earn a 71-44 victory over Hiram on Saturday night at the Covelli Centre. It was the Penguins' first off-campus home game in the city of Youngstown since February 1972.
A crowd of 1,576 saw Hiram (1-4) hang tough with the Penguins in the first half. Neither team could find their shooting touch in the building's first collegiate game. However, YSU (6-4) outscored the Terriers 40-23 in the second half to pull away for their third-straight victory.
Senior Damian Eargle led all scorers with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also finished 7-of-9 from the free-throw line. Included in his six field goals was the first-ever made 3-pointer of his career, which came in the second half. Also in the second half, Eargle blocked the 300th shot of his collegiate career combining his season at UNC-Greensboro and three at Youngstown State.
Kendrick Perry and Shawm Amiker added 12 points each, with Amiker's coming on 4-for-4 shooting from the field and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line. Perry added a game-high seven assists.
YSU never trailed in the contest and opened the game by scoring 15 of the first 17 points. Hiram had just two points 6 minutes and 37 seconds into the contest. The Penguins' lead ballooned to 22-6 at the the 10-minute mark on a 3-pointer by Blake Allen.
Leading 26-11, YSU went scoreless for 4:23 while the Terriers eventually cut the deficit to 29-21 with 1:38 left in the half on a 3-pointer by Josh Edmundson.
At halftime, YSU led 31-21. The Penguins shot 29.6 percent while Hiram hit at just a 25.8 percent clip. The Penguins used a 13-of-16 performance at the free-throw line to take a 10-point lead into the locker room.
After Hiram scored the first two points of the second half, YSU scored eight straight points and led by at least 13 the rest of the contest. Eargle's 3-pointer at the 9:55 mark capped a 23-7 run for the Penguins to start the half. YSU led by as many as 28 on four occasions.
The Penguins shot 53.1 percent in the second half and 42.4 percent for the game. Hiram, which outrebounded YSU 42-41, shot less than 27 percent in both halves and 26.2 percent for the game. Edmondson and Aaron Stefanov finished with eight points apiece.
The Penguins are off until Dec. 18 because of final exams. YSU returns to action at USF to begin a two-game swing through the Sunshine State. The contest is live on ESPN3 and 570 WKBN.