Little things add up to cost Penguins against Oakland

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Youngstown State's Devin Morgan, right, guards Oakland's Braden Norris Sunday in Youngstown. The Golden Grizzlies beat the Penguins, 76-74.

YOUNGSTOWN — Devin Morgan took the ball a couple feet outside of the 3-point arc, dribbling and trying to create space for a game-winning or game-tying shot.

He drove on 6-foot-8 Oakland forward James Beck, attempting to get off a 3-pointer with 6 seconds remaining. Denied.

Morgan, a 5-10 Youngstown State redshirt junior guard, crept a few feet closer and found that narrow space between him and Beck, lofting a shot behind the foul-line circle with 3 seconds left. The shot hit the back of the rim, fell off to the right and out of bounds.

There was a quick video review to see if time was left on the clock. There wasn’t, delaying Oakland’s 76-74 win over the Penguins Sunday afternoon at the Beeghly Center.

Kamari Newman’s 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining was the eventual game-winner for the Golden Grizzlies.

“Gone over that play in practice,” Morgan said. “Made that shot before. They were confident in me to draw the play up. I’ve just got to make the shot. It came down to that miss. I have to go back to the drawing board and keep practicing.”

It’s not as simple as a missed shot to win the game or send it to overtime.

That would be overlooking the obvious, the little intangibles which sunk YSU (4-11, 0-2 Horizon League) for the Penguins third-straight loss.

YSU shot 9 of 18 from the foul line, while Oakland was 20 of 22 — nine free points left by the Penguins in a game decided by two.

YSU outrebounded the Golden Grizzlies (6-9, 2-0) 27 to 25, but couldn’t capitalize off of 10 offensive rebounds. Six second-chance points is paltry to say the least.

Fourteen turnovers didn’t help either.

“You’re never going to win games not doing the little things,” said Morgan, who had 15 points and seven assists off the bench.

He sat out Friday’s loss to Detroit Mercy because of Penguins coach Jerrod Calhoun’s decision. Morgan didn’t do the little things he needs to do every day. That’s something the redshirt junior is trying to improve, something he did Sunday.

Morgan wanted to create tempo, good energy. Scoring wasn’t a priority, even after making three 3-pointers in the first half. He was heavily guarded in the second 20 minutes.

He didn’t want to be a spectator this game, trying to help more defensively. His seven assists meant more than those 15 points.

“He was tremendous tonight,” Calhoun said. “He’s a good player. He’s got to continue to get some of the rust off, get in a little bit better shape. I thought he was really good tonight.”

As good as he was, YSU freshman point guard Darius Quisenberry tied a career-high with 21 points and drove in the lane with reckless abandon to score over the taller Golden Grizzly players.

Quisenberry, who stands 6-1, drove and went up and under on Oakland’s 6-7 Xavier Hill-Mais to cut the Golden Grizzlies lead to 71-69 with a little less than 4 minutes remaining.

Brad Brechting’s 19 points led Oakland’s five double-figure scorers.

Michael Akuchie came off the bench for 11 second-half points for a YSU team which shot 17 of 27 from the floor and 5 of 8 from 3 — a much better game in the final 20 minutes from the Penguins.

Forty-minute games have been non-existent for these Penguins. There’s no lack of determination from this team. It just comes down to consistency, only playing well in spurts.

Morgan doesn’t want to use any of that as a crutch.

YSU needs a dog-like mentality as it starts a four-game road trip Thursday at Green Bay, starting at 8 p.m.

“We have to have a tougher mindset,” Morgan said. “Our record is terrible right now. We can’t be lackadaisical at all when it’s time to get into game mode.”