Back on track: YSU snaps 4-game skid

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo IUPUI's Ron Patterson, foreground, and Nick Rogers, left, try to trap Youngstown State's Garrett Covington during Saturday's game in Youngstown. The Penguins won, 85-62.

YOUNGSTOWN — Cameron Morse watched a 3-pointer swish through the net as he’s done many times before in his Youngstown State University career.

He stutter-stepped backward as if he did a mini moon walk in celebration during Saturday’s 85-62 victory over Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

“I was all about me feeling good,” said Morse, who had a game-high 23 points and is eighth on the all-time scoring list with 1,729. “Everything’s going right now. Everything is clicking during the game. We were making stops and making baskets. That’s the feeling you want.”

Jaylen Minnett made a 3-pointer with less than 13 minutes remaining to cut the YSU lead to 57-52. From there, the Penguins rolled past IUPUI with a 17-2 run capped by another Morse 3 for a 74-54 lead.

Benton and Hartfield each had 12 points.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo IUPUI's Ron Patterson guards YSU's Cameron Morse Saturday in Youngstown.

It carried YSU, which is something the Penguins haven’t seen, especially at Wright State and Detroit when this team did fade in the last 8 minutes.

The Penguins made rotations, going eight deep and getting production from its bench.

It all led to YSU holding fast and breaking a four-game losing streak.

“We felt tonight we did not want to die in the last eight minutes,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said.

It was the little victories during Saturday’s game, which helped the Penguins (6-15, 4-4 Horizon League).

Tyree Robinson a normal high flier for the Penguins saw a the ball going out of bounds to the YSU bench. The stout, undersized post player soared over the chairs and his momentum carried him up in the crowd. Before exiting the playing floor, Robinson pitched the ball to Jaylen Benton.

Prior to that, forced a shot-clock violation on the Jaguars (7-13, 4-5). You could see YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun, who is busy moving in front of his bench for the duration of the Penguins games, slid and pumped his fist as he celebrated the feat.

Defense is a staple of Calhoun’s team, something he wants to implement here.

“That’s why I get excited on shot-clock plays,” Calhoun said. “I enjoy defense. I enjoy my job. I enjoy being around these kids every single day.

“I enjoy a good hard-nosed defensive team and that’s what I saw tonight.”

Garrett Covington, whose Don Bosco Prep team was in attendance Saturday prior to going to the Spire Institute for a game, saw Braun Hartfield alone at the end the court. Covington threw a baseball pass to wide-open Hartfield, who found a cutting Devin Haygood. The YSU junior forward elevated and threw down an emphatic two-handed slam, exciting the crowd at hand in the second half.

Counted in the more than 3,200 at the Beeghly Center were more than 30 former people associated with YSU men’s basketball program.

They were honored at halftime and shared stories during the shootaround prior to Saturday’s game and each of those, including former YSU players like Bruce Timko, Desmond Harrison, Billy Johnson, Ron Allen, TeJay Anderson, Ron Smith, Brian Radakovich, Stephen Flores, Ryan Patton and Albert Crockett.

After that, Calhoun looked at his staff and said there was no way his team would lose. His players heard how they should treasure the time with their teammates and at YSU.

“There’s no way we lose this game tonight with all those former players here and the message they delivered,” Calhoun said. “They helped us win that game tonight.”

The Penguins showed the former players how aggressive they are around the basket. YSU dominated the rebounds, 39 to 19 with 18 offensive rebounds. The Penguins lead the Horizon League in offensive rebounds and rebounding margin.

“Go to the glass and go aggressive and we’ll pretty much get the rebound,” said Covington, who had 15 points. “We got Naz Bohannon and Dev Haygood in there. I try to crash the glass as much as possible. One of us is going to get the ball.”

On the way out of Beeghly Center, there was Hartfield’s family in a hallway taking a picture. I grabbed the iPhone from one of his family members and told them I’d take their picture.

As I shook Hartfield’s hand afterward and headed to my car, I saw the family from Cleveland celebrating the team’s fourth Horizon League win.

Morse celebrated IUPUI’s shot-clock violation as well. He was jumping up and down, almost knocked down his coach.

“That’s the feeling you want to have, getting stops and getting baskets,” said Morse, whose team is at Milwaukee on Thursday. “That’s what the game is about.”

RITTER FOR 3: South Range High School graduate Dan Ritter made a 3 with less than minute left for his first points of the season.

HALF-COURT SHOT: Bill Cupler of Berlin Center made the $12,000 half-court shot in the first half. Cupler put up a shot from half court and banked it in.

“I practiced with my son a lot a couple of nights after work when I knew I had a chance to do this,” Cupler said. “Adrenaline was pumping. I just got lucky.”

The contest is put on by Burgan Real Estate, Ltd.