The Youngstown State men's basketball team needed overtime, but the Penguins earned a hard-fought 68-64 victory over Loyola on Thursday night at the Beeghly Center. The victory is the 1,000th in program history and boasts YSU's league record to 3-1 for the first time ever.
Overall, the Penguins are now 8-6 while Loyola drops to 5-10 overall and 0-5 in league action. Ashen Ward led the Guins with 21 points while Damian Eargle had 14, Kendrick Perry had 13 and Blake Allen finished with 11. For the Ramblers, Walt Gibler had a game-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Ben Averkamp scored 23. Averkamp fouled out of the contest with 2:29 left in the overtime.
YSU led by nine following its first field goal of the second half, but a feisty Ramblers squad knotted the contest at 35 by scoring 11 of 15 points during the first four minutes of the period.
From the 17:56 mark to the end of regulation, the biggest lead in the contest was four points, by Loyola with 9:38 left at 49-45, and featured five ties and eight lead changes.
Finally the Penguins forced overtime when Kendrick Perry made the second of two free throws with 22.6 seconds remaining. However, Loyola had two shots to pull out the victory. Averkamp's initial shot was shot and a putback attempt by Crisman was off the mark.
In overtime, YSU finally grabbed the lead for good in the final minute. Trailing 64-63, Ward found Eargle who connected on a 15-footer with 53 seconds remaining. Ward forced Crisman into a turnover in the corner and was fouled with 33 ticks left. Ward calmly went to the line and sank both opportunities putting the Penguins on top 67-64.
Loyola took two shots, before DuShawn Brooks grabbed a Gibler miss with 12.8 seconds left. Brooks missed the first free throw before draining the second to put the Penguins up 68-64. Perry sealed the deal with a steal off of Denzel Brito in the waning seconds.
For the game, YSU shot 46.4 percent (26-of-56) while Loyola made just one fewer field goal making 25-of-56 shots (44.6 percent). From the free-throw line the Guins made 10-of-23, but were 3-of-4 in the final final 35 seconds of overtime. YSU had just three turnovers on the night. It committed one in the first 35 minutes and just two in regulation.
YSU came out cold from the field missing its first five field-goal attempts, but heated up the remained of the half by drilling 12 of its final 22 shots. Loyola came out and scored the game's first five points, and had two one-point leads, 9-8 and 14-13, the rest of the stanza.
Trailing 14-13, the Penguins scored nine of the next 10 points in a span of just over three minutes. YSU went on top 22-15 when Allen connected on a jumper in the lane. Ward's layup in the final minute gave the Guins a 29-22 halftime lead.
For the half, YSU shot 44.4 percent while Loyola hit at a 40.9 percent clip.
The Penguins are at home this Saturday when they play host to UIC. Tipoff for the contest against the Flames at the Beeghly Center is set for 7:05 p.m. It can be heard live on 570 WKBN on fans can watch the contest on the Horizon League Network.