Controversial call ends YSU’s season

YOUNGSTOWN – Billy Baron had the ball in his hands with 28 seconds remaining, and the shot clock off.

Baron’s Canisius team was tied with Youngstown State at 82 during Saturday’s Tournament second-round game.

Baron, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, waved his team off as he cleared mid court, waiting for his opportunity.

YSU’s D.J. Cole maned up on Baron, covering him closely as the Canisius junior guard spotted up behind the 3-point arc. Baron raised up for the shot and it seemed as if Cole got the ball and nothing but the ball before Baron could shoot it with 2 seconds remaining.

A foul was called and Baron, who averages 16.7 points per game, went to the line to shoot three free throws. Baron, an 80-percent free-throw shooter, missed the first of three shots. He made the next and then YSU called timeout. It didn’t faze Baron as he made the final charity toss for an 84-82 lead, that ended the Penguins’ season at the Beeghly Center.

“I felt very confident taking the shot, but he fouled me,” said Baron, who scored a game-high 30 points. “I was shocked that he actually fouled me. I just had to go to the line and hit a few.”

Kendrick Perry, who had 20 points, missed a 3-point shot from half court at the game’s end.

YSU coach Jerry Slocum was visibly upset about the foul called on Cole.

“He (Cole) said the kid put the ball up right in front of him,” Slocum said. “It is what it is. He’s in there (locker room) crying right now.”

YSU (18-16) had things well in hand during the first half – shooting 9 of 16 from 3, 51.4 percent from the floor, holding Canisius to 28.6 percent and dominating with a 45-28 lead.

Blake Allen, who set the single-season record for 3-pointers Saturday with 94, hit back-to-back 3s in the first 2 minutes of the second half. Allen, who broke Craig Haese’s record of 92 set in the 2000-01 season, had a team-high 27 points.

Allen’s 3 would be the last as YSU’s seemingly potent offense went ice cold – 0 of 6 from the floor with six turnovers in the next 7 minutes until Cole broke the drought with 1 of 2 from the line with 11:08 left.

“Essentially we relaxed a little bit, didn’t execute on offense, didn’t get the stops that we need,” Allen said. “Our lack of execution turned into direct baskets on the other end. It’s tough to overcome.”

During that stretch, Canisius (20-13) went on a 20-0 run.

“It was 20-0? Oh my goodness,” Baron said.

He and players like Alshwan Hymes, who came off the bench to score 16 points for the Golden Griffins, were stunned at their second-half comeback.

“I’ve never been part of something like that,” Baron said. “I think we were down 48-28. I look up (again) and it was 53-48. I was like, ‘Wow, it’s a five-point game.’ By that time, I felt momentum completely shifted.

“Even when it went to overtime, I thought we had a lot of confidence going to overtime. That was amazing. I’m still shocked that we won that game.”

YSU had 11 second-half turnovers.

“I thought we didn’t take care of the ball in the second half,” Slocum said.

It was a perfect storm for Canisius.

“They got a couple easy baskets, kind of quieted our crowd a little bit,” Allen said. “They got their confidence. They dug and dug and dug and eventually got back into the game.”

That said, Slocum is happy with the most successful season he’s had in Youngstown since arriving in 2005.

“I’m very proud of the way our guys played all year,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in our second-half performance. Hard to go out with that kind of a call at the end of the game. Very disappointed.

“We didn’t take of the ball in the second half and we didn’t defensive rebound.”

YSU senior forward and Warren G. Harding graduate Damian Eargle and junior forward Kamren Belin each had 14 points and 11 rebounds.