Youngstown -- The Youngstown State men's basketball team suffered its fourth straight heartbreaking defeat dropping a 76-73 contest to Wright State on Thursday night at the Beeghly Center. YSU tied the game with 17.8 seconds left on a layup by Vytas Sulskis. The Raiders went right back up the floor and Troy Tabler's deep 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left was the game-winner.
From the 12-minute mark to the final buzzer the contest was a nip-and-tuck affair with neither team leading by more than four points. The second half featured five lead changes and three ties while the game had six ties and 11 lead changes.
Youngstown State never led again after grabbing a 64-63 lead on a Sulskis layup with 3:32 left in the game. But the Guins made the Raiders, who clinched the No. 2 seed in next week's Horizon League Tournament with the win, work for the win down the to the final second.
Wright State took a 66-64 lead when N'Gai Evans made a driving layup and free throw at the 3:20 mark. On the Guins' ensuing possession, Brown picked Sulskis' pocket and slammed it home 15 seconds later to boost the lead to 68-64.
Trailing by four with 1:24 remaining DeAndre Mays converted two free throws to cut the deficit in half. Wright State's Ronnie Thomas missed his next two free-throw attempts with 55.1 seconds remaining. As Sulskis grabbed the rebound in the corner he was fouled.
With 52.4 seconds left, Sulskis drained both attempts tying the contest at 70.
WSU's Vaughn Duggins took the ball to the hoop and was fouled by Dallas Blocker with 44.3 ticks left. Duggins converted both shots to put the Raiders in front 72-70. Mays made one free throw with 37.2 left to cut the deficit to 72-71.
YSU was forced to foul Troy Tabler with 28 seconds left and he made just the second of his two attempts. The Penguins didn't panic and tied the game with 17.8 ticks left when Mays dished off to Sulskis who tied the game on a driving layup.
That set the stage for Cooperwood's dramatic 3-pointer in the final second.
The Penguins drop to 8-20 overall and 2-15 in the Horizon League and have now lost their last four games by a total of nine points. YSU had lost its previous three contests by just two points. Wright State improves to 19-10 and 12-5 and will be the tournament's number two seed.
YSU had four players finish in double figures led by Sirlester Martin's 16 points. Sulskis had 15, Mays finished with 14 and Ashen Ward notched a career-best 12 points. Sulskis also grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with his second career double-double.
For Wright State, six players finished in double figures led by Brown's 16.
YSU dominated the boards with a 37-21 advantage. YSU shot 49.1 percent (28-of-57) while WSU hit at a 54.3 percent clip (25-of-46).
Trailing by five with just over eight minutes left in the first half, the Penguins used an impressive 18-1 run, at one time scoring 13 unanswered points, turning a 22-17 deficit into a 35-23 lead with 2:13 left before the break. But Wright State scored the final nine points as the first half ended with YSU ahead 35-32.
For awhile it looked like the Penguins were going to run away with a large halftime lead, but WSU roared back. Martin and Ward spearheaded the 18-1 run as each scored seven points. The lone Raider point during that stretch was a free throw by N'Gai Evans at the 2:57 mark, which momentarily halted a string of 13 consecutive Penguin points.
Wright State concluded the half with the final nine points starting with a Duggins bucket. WSU pulled within three points on a three-point play by Cory Cooperwood with 52 seconds left.
Both teams shot 44 percent in the opening stanza with the Guins converting 13-of-29 shots while the Raiders made 11-of-25 attempts. The Penguins had 19-13 advantage on the glass and made 6-of-7 free-throw attempts. Martin had 14 in the first half, while Ward finished with 10.
The Penguins play their final home game of the season on Saturday when they play host to Detroit. The contest is the Horizon League Network Game of the Week and will tipoff at 2:05 p.m.