Monday, January 25, 2016

Youngstown State 70, Cleveland State 55: Vikings take a step back with loss to Penguins

So much for a homefield advantage?

For the Cleveland State men's basketball team, playing its home games at the Q has been anything but a homefield advantage this season.

With a 70-55 loss to Youngstown State on Sunday afternoon, the Vikings dropped to 0-3 at Quicken Loans Arena this year and are 2-8 all-time at the home of the Cavaliers.

CSU head coach Gary Waters called Sunday's loss to YSU, “a step back.”

"I felt we have taken some steps forward (with wins against Northern Kentucky and UIC), but we didn't take it today," he said. "We will get back to the drawing board and make some adjustments and get them to play hard again."

Demonte Flannigan led the Vikings (7-14, 2-6 Horizon League) with 18 points and also grabbed six boards. Rob Edwards added 16 points, but struggled from the field, making just 5 of 16 shots. No one else had more then seven points for CSU, which had its season-high two game-winning streak snapped.

Matt Donlan led the Penguins (8-13, 3-5 HL) with 16 points, all came in the first half. Cameron Morse, YSU's leading scorer, was held to 14 points, four less then his scoring average of 18.9.

Cleveland native Francisco Santiago also had a strong game for the Penguins with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals against the team he always grew up wanting to play for.

The Vikings couldn't overcome cold shooting in the second half. They shot 26.9 percent after the half and were just 2 of 10 from long range.

"They hit our Achilles heel. We just can't shoot it," said Waters. "They played that (2-3) zone and stuck inside of us. We can hit it at certain times, if we work it by going inside. If we don't have were we can attack the basket, it's hard for us to score.

"I got to give them credit, they played the zone well. In the first half, they played very little (zone), that's why it was a close game and we had the lead, but when they went to the zone (in the second half) it stymied us."

The Penguins weren't much better shooting. With starters Bobby Hain (foot) and Sidney Umude (leg) out with injuries, YSU shot just 40 percent (22-of-55) from the field, including 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from long range.

But the Penguins had a huge edge at the free throw line, going 19-of-25, while CSU was 14-of-20.

"My concern has been our defense all year and they only shot 40 percent, that's a good defensive percentage," said Waters. "I thought what hurt us in the second half was the rash of free throws down the stretch. It's going to be hard to catch a team when they hit so many free throws."

YSU made 14 of 20 free throws in the second half, while the Vikings got to the line 10 times, making only eight.

In a surprise move, YSU opened the game playing man-to-man defense and the Vikings took advantage.

CSU took an early 16-9 lead, but once YSU switched to the 2-3 zone, its offense struggled.

The Vikings made only two field goals in the final 6:25 as the Penguins closed the half on a 15-7 run to take a 35-31 advantage at the break.

"I thought (Donlan) was the key in the first half," said Waters. "When he plays the four its a mismatch for most teams because when you put your four on him, he's out there shooting it (from three-point distance). In the second half, we put a guard on him and he didn't score a point.'

Donlan made 6 of 10 shots from the field in the opening half, including 4 of 7 from long range. In the second half, Waters had Terrell Hales guard the 6-foot-7 Australian native and he limited him to just one shot in the final 20 minutes.

For all of the second half, YSU stuck with its 2-3 zone and the Vikings had no answers for it.

In the first four and a half minutes of the second half, the Penguins were held to just one point, but the Vikings couldn't capitalize on the offensive end. CSU made just one of its first five shots and never got closer then 36-35.

With 15:44 to go, a lay-up from Santiago was YSU's first field goal in the second half and pushed the lead out to 38-35, but CSU responded with a Vinny Zollo three-pointer to close within 42-40.

But that was as close as CSU would get.

During the next seven minutes, CSU made only 1 of 8 shots and turned the ball over four times, as the Penguins took control of the game with a 16-2 run that pushed the lead out to 58-44.

The Vikings were never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

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