Youngstown -- The Youngstown State men's basketball team scored the final seven points in overtime and played strong defensively throughout in a 53-49 win over UC-Riverside on Friday evening at Beeghly Center.
The Penguins improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2000-01 while the Highlanders fell to 1-2.
After UC-Riverside overcame a six-point deficit in the final eight minutes to force overtime, the Highlanders, took a 49-46 lead in the extra period on a three-point play by Phil Martin. Neither team scored for the next minute, and the Penguins scored the final seven points from the free throw line.
Damian Eargle sank two charity tosses with 41 seconds left, and Kendrick Perry made two more with 26 seconds left to give YSU a 50-49 lead. Martin missed a go-ahead attempt with fewer than five seconds remaining, and YSU's DuShawn Brooks was fouled after a defensive rebound.
UC-Riverside coach Jim Wooldridge was called for two technical fouls arguing for a foul on Martin's miss, and the Penguins were awarded six total free throws. Perry made just one of four, but Brooks made both of his from the personal foul to put the game out of reach with 1.4 seconds left.
Ashen Ward led YSU with 15 points, and Eargle had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. Eargle's eight blocks tied for the third most for a single game in YSU history.
Martin had a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Highlanders.
UC-Riverside scored the first six points of the second half to go up 25-21 on a 3-pointer by Kareem Nitoto with 18:23 remaining. An Eargle jumper capped an 11-2 run that gave the Guins 32-27 lead, and YSU still led by five on Ward's lay-up with 10:40 remaining. That was YSU's last field goal of regulation, but two Eargle free throws at the 8:09 mark to give YSU its largest lead of the game at 37-31.
UC-Riverside scored the next six points to tie the score with 6:22 remaining, and a Harrison Gaines 3-pointer gave the Highlanders a 40-38 lead with 5:25 left. Two Brooks free throws tied the score with 4:34 remaining, and Eargle made two from the stripe with two minutes left to give YSU a 42-40 lead. Gaines hit an off-balance jumper at the end of the shot clock with 1:24 remaining to tie the score and set up overtime.
Youngstown State shot just 22.4 percent from the field and was 3-for-19 from 3-point range. UC-Riverside was slightly better at 31.3 percent from the floor, but the Penguins held a 14-point edge at the free-throw line.
Youngstown State's defense kept the game close with strong effort in the first half that gave it a 21-19 halftime advantage. Ward had eight points at halftime to lead all scorers, and DuShawn Brooks had six rebounds. Martin had seven points for the Highlanders, who matched YSU's five blocks.
The Penguins missed their first six shots and didn't score their first points until a Perry bucket with 16:13 remaining. Despite YSU's slow start, UC-Riverside was only able to get a five-point head start. Ward's 3-poiniter with 10:38 remaining tied the score at 9-9, and the Penguins took their first lead on a Blake Allen triple at the 7:41 mark.
Allen's layup in traffic with 5:01 remaining gave the Penguins their largest lead of the first half at 16-12, but YSU didn't score again until Ward's putback with 2:36 left. That tied the score at 19-19, and a Shawn Amiker jumper off a rebound with 1:55 remaining gave YSU its 21-19 lead at the break. UC-Riverside did not score for the final three minutes of the period.
Youngstown State's next game is at Penn State on Wednesday at 7 p.m.