Cameron Morse scored 28 of his game-high 35 points in the second half, but the Youngstown State men's basketball team had a comeback come up short in an 84-81 loss to Wright State on Thursday evening at Beeghly Center.
Morse scored 15 straight points for the Penguins at one point in the second half as they trimmed an 11-point deficit to one with four minutes remaining. Mark Alstork, who had 33 points for Wright State, scored the next five points to get the lead back to six. Jordan Kaufman's bucket with 24 seconds remaining got the Penguins within one again with 24 seconds left, and Alstork hit his 10th and 11th free throws of the night to push the lead back to three.
With the Raiders swarming Morse, Brett Frantz missed a tying 3-point attempt from the right wing with less than 10 seconds remaining. Mark Hughes missed two free throws on Wright State's possession, but Grant Benzinger grabbed the offensive rebound and held on as the clock ran out.
Morse was 13-for-23 from the field, including 10-for-14 in the second half, in his 35-point effort. Kaufman added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Penguins, who dropped to 10-18 overall and 4-11 in Horizon League play.
Alstork was 10-for-18 from the field and went 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. Three other Wright State starters scored in double figures.
Youngstown State never led in the game, but the Penguins kept battling and never allowed Wright State to lead by more than 11.
The Penguins got behind by seven, 13-6, in the first five minutes of the game but rallied to get within one point on two occasions in the first half.
Kaufman's layup and free throw got the Penguins within 17-16, and Frantz hit a 3 at the 8:56 mark to 7climbed back to within six at 36-30 on a Kaufman basket with 2:40 remaining. Wright State upped the margin to nine, 43-34, at halftime.
Wright State led by 11 three times in the first five minutes of the second half before YSU made a charge. After Alstork's jumper gave the Raiders a 53-42 lead at the 15:15 mark, the Penguins went on a 9-2 run over the next 1:40 to get within 55-51. Morse started the run with a 3-pointer, and he ended it with a steal and basket.
The Raiders worked the lead back up to 11 at 63-52 with 11:47 left, and the margin was 11 again at 65-54 the 10:10 mark. The Penguins got back within 67-62, but Wright State answered again to go up 72-62. That's when Morse took the game over and got YSU within one. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the deficit to four, and he made three free throws to make the score 74-71 with 5:27 left. He then made a layup in transition to get the Penguins with 76-75 with 3:49 remaining.
Alstork's five-point run followed, and Kaufman's rebound and basket with 24 seconds left set up the final sequence.
Youngstown State will host Northern Kentucky on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the final home game this season. Seniors Matt Donlan, Frantz, Kaufman and Tyler Warford will be honored prior to the game as part of Senior Day.