Penguins Beat NKU 78-74 to End Non-Conference Play

Bobby Hain
Bobby Hain

Youngstown -- The Youngstown State men's basketball team went on a 10-2 run early in the second half and held off Northern Kentucky in a 78-74 win on Wednesday afternoon to finish non-conference play.

Penguins junior Bobby Hain scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, and five other YSU players finished with at least eight points. Youngstown State will take a 9-6 record into its Horizon League opener on Friday at UIC.

NKU led for almost 18 minutes in the first half, but its largest lead was just six, and the Penguins were down 41-40 at halftime.

DJ Cole started the second half with a bucket to put YSU ahead 42-41, and NKU's only lead of the second half came when Chad Jackson hit a jumper with 19:06 on the clock. Shawn Amiker scored on YSU's next possession to spark the Penguins' 10-2 run that ended up being the difference.

Hain finished the run with a jumper at the 15:10 mark that put YSU up 52-45, and his bucket with 12:33 remaining gave the Penguins their largest lead of the afternoon at 56-47.

Youngstown State led by nine again with 8:15 left when the Norse started to make a comeback. They went on a 10-4 run and cut the margin to one possession on two 3-pointers by Deontae Cole. Those were the first two triples of the second half for the Norse, who were 6-for-15 from distance in the first half but missed their first seven attempts in the second period.

YSU scored the next three points to go up by six with 4:13 left, and another four-point run pushed the lead to seven with 1:03 remaining once NKU got within three points again.

Hain added 14 rebounds to go with his 22 points, and Cole led all players with nine assists. Youngstown State shot 56 percent overall and was 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

Jackson was one of five Norse players in double-figures, and he finished with a team-high 16 points. NKU shot 56.7 percent in the first half, but it slowed to 39.4 percent in the second half to finish at 47.6 percent for the game.

Both teams caught fire from the field in the first half as YSU countered NKU's 56.7 percent shooting with 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the floor. The Norse also made six 3-pointers while the Penguins nailed five from behind the arc.

Northern Kentucky's largest lead was six – 17-11 and 21-15 – before the Penguins fought to get the lead down to one on seven occasions.

The Penguins took their second lead of the game, 40-39, on a Keene layup with 58 seconds left before the intermission.

That lead was short lived after Jordan Jackson hit a jumper with 47 seconds left to give the Norse a 41-40 halftime lead.

The Penguins begin Horizon League play against UIC, Friday, Jan. 2, at 4 p.m. in Chicago, Ill.