YOUNGSTOWN - Kendrick Perry saw his team was trailing by 10 midway through the second half. As a senior, the Youngstown State University point guard took matters into his own hands.
It started when Perry scored 10 of YSU's points as the Penguins went on a 13-0 run with 9 minutes left in the game. From there, neither team held more than four-point advantage through the rest of regulation before the two went to overtime.
In the extra session, Perry sealed Milwaukee's fate with two free throws with 19 seconds left in overtime to lift the Penguins past the Panthers Thursday at the Beeghly Center, 88-83.
"As a leader, I have to know when my team needs a basket or when to make a play," said Perry, who had a career-high 35 points with nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. "Sometimes, it's not me scoring. Sometimes it's getting a steal, assist or a rebound.
"Tonight, it was a scoring night. I was glad I was able to do that for my team."
Milwaukee (16-11, 6-7 Horizon League) missed a 3-pointer by Kyle Kelm (13 points), whose shot rimmed in and out with 11.9 seconds remaining in OT that could have tied the game. Instead, DJ Cole (11 points) grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made 1 of 2 from the line to give YSU the 87-83.
Milwaukee had a chance to tie or get closer, but Mitch Roelke's pass to a Milwaukee post player went awry with 8 seconds remaining. Cole was fouled again and made 1 of 2 from the line with 6 seconds left to complete the scoring.
YSU shot 53.3 percent from the floor and played its normal up-tempo style most of the game. However, YSU coach Jerry Slocum didn't like his team's defense. Milwaukee shot 46.6 percent.
"It's like a double-edged sword," Slocum said. "Our offense was better, but our defense was worse. Somewhere in there, I'd like to put together where we play really good at the defensive end and start to get our offense going."
The Penguins (15-13, 6-7) did like the bounce back of Ryan Weber, who wore a clear protective mask due to a broken nose suffered during practice. Weber had two points at the end of regulation and seemed to struggle with his newly fitted mask, taking it off at any chance he got during the game.
Then, things started to click for the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward who canned a 3 with 1:54 left in overtime to give YSU an 82-81 lead.
After a lay-up by Milwaukee's J.J. Panoske, who had 11 points, Weber came through again. He clanked a 3, but grabbed his own miss and drained an 8-foot, one-handed runner to put YSU up, 84-83, with 1:05 remaining.
"You've got to credit Ryan and his mental toughness," said Perry, who overcame a late-season injury himself last season. "He's come a long way. It's definitely frustrating and things aren't clicking right away. What Ryan understands it's a process. It's not going to happen overnight."
Prior to Weber's scoring stretch, it seemed Milwaukee was going to pull away. Austin Arians, who had a team-high 28 points for the Panthers, made three straight free throws on a foul by Weber.
"He's obviously a great shooter," Slocum said of Arians, who was 8 of 13 from the floor and 5 of 8 from 3. "At 6-6, he can go over your pressure."
Weber, Perry and Bobby Hain were all playing with four fouls during overtime, but it couldn't change the way they approached the game.
"You have to balance out playing hard and playing smart," Perry said. "Tonight, you have to give credit to all of us for doing both of them."
Kamren Belin and Hain each had 14 points for YSU, while JeVon Lyle added 15 for Milwaukee.
Saturday, YSU is at Valparaiso. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.
GREEN BAY CAPTURES TOP SEED: With Green Bay's 67-53 victory over Valparaiso on Thursday, the Phoenix (22-5, 12-2) are the top seed for the upcoming Horizon League Tournament, getting a bye to the semifinals - hosting the quarterfinals and semifinals. Green Bay will host the title game if it makes it there. The top remaining seed hosts the title game.
Cleveland State (18-10, 9-4) and Valparaiso (16-12, 8-5) are jockeying for the second seed. The second seed also gets a bye to the semifinals, while the third seed doesn't play until the quarterfinals.
Wright State is fourth (15-13, 7-6), while Milwaukee, YSU and Detroit (13-15, 6-7) are tied for fifth. Oakland (10-18, 5-8) is eighth, while UIC (5-22, 0-13) is ninth. The fourth through sixth teams host the seventh through ninth teams in the first round.