Raiders are Wright on Penguins’ heels

YOUNGSTOWN – The Youngstown State basketball teams are facing the best the Horizon League has to offer on Wednesday.

The Penguin men face the league’s toughest defensive team in Wright State, while the women also have their hands full with the Raiders – arguably the most talented team in the league.

The women’s game starts at noon, while the men are at 7 p.m., in a rare day-night doubleheader.

YSU’s men are coming off a one-point loss at Oakland on Friday, 86-85. The loss dropped the Penguins (13-10, 4-4 Horizon League) into a three-way tie for fourth place with Wright State (13-12, 5-5) and Milwaukee (15-9, 5-5). Green Bay leads the league (18-4, 8-1), followed by Cleveland State (15-9, 6-3) and Valparaiso (14-10, 6-3). Four of Penguins’ last five games have been decided in the last couple of minutes, which prompted YSU coach Jerry Slocum to say its a competitive league.

“Every night, there’s going to be a great basketball game out there,” Slocum said.

As for the YSU women (10-10, 6-1), the Penguins are trying to bounce back from their first conference loss – Saturday at Cleveland State, 84-80. The loss snapped YSU’s six-game winning streak.

How are the Penguins handling their first loss since a 66-57 setback Jan. 4 vs. IUPUI?

“Offensive rebounds killed us,” said YSU women’s coach John Barnes, whose team was beaten on the offensive glass, 23-11. “They did a great job going to the boards, and we’ve got to be a little bit tougher. Just concentrate out there and do the little things.”

The last time the YSU men faced Wright State, the Penguins staved off a mad rush by the Raiders to hold on for a one-point win, 68-67.

Kamren Belin had 15 points and played a good all-around game. Raiders coach Billy Donlan recruited Belin out of Cowley Junior College.

“I feel he has that, ‘Don’t let him score, kind of something out for me,’ ” he said. “It’s always good going against them. They’re a good team.”

As for the women, the Penguins know they have their hands full against Wright State. The Raiders (16-6, 5-2) and Green Bay (12-7, 5-2) are one game back of YSU, while UIC (16-5, 5-3) and Cleveland State (10-11, 5-3) are a game-and-a-half behind the Penguins.

“They have so many weapons that are really athletic, quick,” Barnes said of Wright State. “They can not only shoot, but attack the basket. It’s going to be tough to keep them in front of us.”

The men will be challenged as well, despite Wright State losing its last three games. YSU is 9-38 against Wright State and only beat the Raiders once in Fairborn, Dec. 17, 1994, 62-56.

“No matter where you play them, they’re good,” Slocum said. “In their building, they have a confidence offensively that allows them to get eight or 10 points more at home.”