Cole’s Bucket With 2.5 Seconds Left Lifts Penguins to 62-60 Win Over Loyola
Sophomore guard DJ Cole banked in a driving bucket near the left block with 2.5 seconds left, and the Youngstown State men's basketball team defeated Loyola 62-60 in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament on Tuesday evening at Beeghly Center.
The sixth-seeded Penguins improve to 17-14 overall and advance to play No. 3 Wright State on Friday at 6 p.m. at Valparaiso. The seventh-seeded Ramblers see their season end with a 15-16 record.
After the two regular-season meetings between the teams were decided in the final 10 seconds and by a total of three points, the tournament game predictably came down the wire.
Loyola led 43-39 with 12:58 left before the Penguins went on a 12-4 run to take a 55-47 lead with six minutes remaining. They held the lead until Loyola's Devon Turk tied the score on two free throws with 12.7 seconds left. Cole dribbled the ball across the court, allowed the clock to tick down, and drove to the left for the game-winner.
Joe Crisman's desperation 3-pointer from beyond half court was wide, and Beeghly Center erupted with victory.
Cole finished with 13 points and four assists, and Blake Allen and Kamren Belin both had 15. Damian Eargle posted 10 points, eight rebounds and a Horizon League Tournament record seven blocks. Shawn Amiker had nine points and nine rebounds in his first start since Jan. 19.
Christian Thomas had 16 points, and Ben Averkamp had 14 for Loyola.
After the teams played to a 29-29 tie at halftime, Loyola opened up a 40-34 lead with 15:57 left on an Averkamp jumper. The Ramblers still led 43-39 with 12:58 remaining on a Turk triple, but the Penguins scored 12 of the next 16 points and led 55-47 at the 6:01 mark. Cole had seven points during the run, and Allen hit a 3-pointer with 8:29 left that gave the Penguins their first lead in nearly 10 minutes.
Jeff White stopped a five minute field-goal drought for Loyola at the 4:54 mark, and Matt O'Leary banked in a 3-pointer on the Ramblers' next possession to make the score 55-52. YSU split its next four free throws, and Belin's jumper with 1:13 left put the Penguins ahead 59-56. That Belin bucket was YSU's first field goal since Allen made one with 6:01 left that capped the 12-4 run.
Averkamp made two of his three free-throw attempts with 57 seconds left, and Amiker split a pair of free throws with 24.1 seconds remaining. Loyola called timeout to set up the play for Turk that resulted in two made free throws and the final sequence.
YSU made 13-of-26 in both halves, and Loyola shot 44.4 percent. The Penguins progressively improved on its interior defense, limiting the Ramblers to 10 points in the paint over the final 23 minutes after they had 22 in the first 17. Eargle played a big part of that with his seven blocks, just one shy of the record for the entire Horizon League Tournament. Three of those blocks came on one possession in the second half.
YSU held a 12-4 lead in the first five minutes of the contest, but Loyola rallied as the teams went into the locker room tied at 29.
The Penguins scored on their first two possessions and took their 12-4 lead on Amiker's lay-up with 15:07 left. The Ramblers scored eight of the next points to get within 14-12, and they took their first lead of the night on a Averkamp jumper at the 8:38 mark.
YSU reclaimed the lead at 22-21, but Averkap scored on Loyola's next possession with 5:30 left. An Allen triple tied the score at 27, and Amiker made a bucket with 24 seconds left before halftime to tie the score.
Thomas had 12 points in the first half to lead all scorers, and Belin had eight for YSU. Both teams started hot as YSU made nine of its first 14 attempts, and Loyola started 10-for-18. Of Loyola's first 27 points, 22 came in the paint.