Eargle, Allen ready for senior night

Damian Eargle was frustrated -?frustrated that he had to spend two games on the bench – time that could’ve been spent on the floor helping his team.

“It has,” Eargle said. “That’s why I regret not playing those two games because those are the few games I have left in college basketball.

“Hopefully I continue my career somewhere else.”

The Youngstown State University senior forward knows full well those games are gone.

“I’ll never play in this gym again on an NCAA level,” Eargle said. “It’s going to mean a lot to me to make a statement before I leave. It’s a big deal.”

It is a big deal. He has meant a lot to this YSU program.

But, there are three games left in his regular season and one guaranteed postseason game, which will be at home.

The worst YSU can finish is 7-9 in the Horizon League, which will edge out Cleveland State – sitting in seventh. Teams that finish four through six host first-round home games and Penguins will be one of those teams.

That said, tonight’s ESPN BracketBusters game against Central Michigan is special to Eargle. He and fellow senior Blake Allen, a 6-foot-1 guard, are the Penguins two senior basketball players being honored.

Both average in double figures and have had a huge hand in YSU’s resurgence the past two seasons. The Penguins, with a win tonight, can have back-to-back seasons with 16 or more wins for the first time since the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons where the Penguins were 18-11 and 19-11.

For Allen, he has been a clutch performer for the Penguins – especially this season. His key 3-pointer with 10 seconds left against Loyola gave YSU a 60-59 victory in a game that by all accounts, it should’ve lost. The Penguins blew a 14-point halftime lead against a team that had nine players and the Ramblers top two scorers were out.

That said, it’s no surprise Allen made a clutch 3-pointer. Junior guard Kendrick Perry, the one who usually thrives on the Penguins’ last-second heroics, was smothered by Loyola, leaving Allen open.

Allen has hit more than his fair share of 3s this season, not just in games. He admitted earlier this season he has popped off about 300-400 3s in a couple day stretch. Talk about practice.

However, practice has made perfect for Eargle.

The 6-7, 215-pound forward has been the benchmark for the Penguins defense. His shot-blocking prowess per game is sixth in the nation at 3.2.

His wingspan is 82 inches, which with his arms high above his head makes him on equal footing with near 7-footers around the league.

Even when he’s not blocking shots, his mere disruption is a distraction to the opposition.

Both players will be missed next season. For now, take one next-to-last look at them at the Beeghly Center. Tonight’s tip-off is at 7:05 p.m.