Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Rough ending leads to defeat
The Penguins couldn't hold a second-half lead against Duquesne.
By PETE MOLLICA
PITTSBURGH The Youngstown State men's basketball team struggled at the start, and more importantly at the finish on Monday as the Penguins suffered an 81-75 loss to Duquesne University at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
YSU (1-2) led the Dukes (1-0) by eight points midway in the second half, but when they needed the baskets down the stretch, they didn't come.
"We didn't make the shots when it mattered," YSU coach Jerry Slocum said. "At crunch time, we had some easy putbacks, but just didn't convert. We just didn't play well tonight."
The Penguins, who trailed almost all of the first half, were down by one at halftime (40-39), but came out in the second half and took the lead 45-44.
Then the lead began to grow.
Sparked by seniors Quin Humphrey and Keston Roberts, the Penguins quickly jumped out to a 57-49 lead on a 12-4 run with 11:50 remaining.
They led 60-52 with 10:39 to go when things began to change and the Dukes, who have just seven healthy scholarship players on their roster, made their move.
"Give them credit they hit the shots and made the plays when they needed them," Slocum said. "We didn't."
Duquesne took only its second lead of the second half with 4:31 remaining on a basket by Robert Mitchell.
Over the next three minutes, the Penguins made just one of six shots and turned the ball over three times while Duquesne took a 78-70 lead and was never threatened again.
Humphrey led the Penguins with 23 points, 16 of them in the first half. Roberts added 15, senior Dwight Holmes 12 and junior guard Byron Davis 10.
The Penguins shot 43.1 percent from the field, was 9-of-25 from 3-point range and connected on 16 of 24 free throws.
They also outrebounded the Dukes 42-36 led by Humphrey with 11 and Holmes with 10.
"We just didn't step up when we needed to," Humphrey said. "I take most of the blame tonight, I just didn't play well, but it won't happen again."
Duquesne, which owns a 9-2 record against the Penguins, was led by Scott Grote with 23 points. Mitchell added 14 and Aaron Jackson had 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Dukes also shot 43 percent from the field.
"We now finally get a home game," Slocum said. "We have a long week before we play Slippery Rock on Sunday, then we go back on the road for two more, which just happens to be Big Ten games."
The Penguins started slowly and were cold from the field, making just four of their first 14 shots.
They fell behind quickly 5-1, but then got back into the game closing to within two points, 7-5, and stayed close until the Dukes caught fire midway in the period.
YSU trailed by two 13-11 with 12:30 remaining but the Dukes went on an 11-2 run, including three 3-point goals to open a 24-14 lead at the 10:11 mark.
The Penguins still trailed by 10, 26-16, when Humphrey connected on a 3-point shot from the corner that ignited a 19-7 YSU run.
Humphrey's third 3-pointer of the half ended that run and gave the Penguins their first lead 37-35 with 2:25 left in the half.
The lead changed hands four times with two ties over those last two minutes, but the Dukes, by way of an Aaron Jackson basket with 24 seconds remaining took a 40-39 lead at intermission.
After starting coldly, the Penguins finished hitting 12 of 30 from the field, but just 4-14 from behind the arc in the half.
Humphrey had 16 points and nine rebounds over those first 20 minutes and the Penguins outrebounded Duquesne 24-17.