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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Horizon League Play tipped off today between the visiting Youngstown State Penguins and hosting Cleveland State Vikings. Both teams were happy to see it arrive as they had a combined 5 out of conference wins between them. In the end it was the Penguins coming out ahead 80-77 on a buzzer beater from Cameron Morse to stun the Vikings.
Cleveland State trailed all night long, down by 11 at halftime, but kept pushing all second half to come all the way back and tie it at 77 with less then 10 seconds remaining. It was a wild finish that saw both teams make clutch shot after clutch shot.
Jaylen Benton of YSU headed to the foul line with his team up 73-71 with 32 seconds left, he calmly hit both foul shots to give the Penguins a commanding 75-71 lead. From there, the heroics of Bobby Word took over, as he hit a clutch three pointer to cut into the lead 75-74 with a little over 15 seconds left.
CSU quickly fouled and sent Garrett Convington to the line to shoot the pair. He then calmly made both and it was 77-74 as the Vikings would have one chance to tie it with a three, that did exactly that when Bobby Word once again sunk one from long range to tie it 77-77 with 7 seconds left.
Youngstown State opted not to take a timeout, instead, going the distance of the court when Cameron Morse hit the game winner from a few feet behind the 3-point line at the buzzer. There was .05 seconds left, but it didn’t matter, the heartbreaking defeat was complete.
As mentioned, the Vikings began the second half down 11 after nothing went right in the first half. They fought hard and battled it back. They cut into the lead and made it 54-53 with 10 minutes to go. The Vikings never led, but again, never gave up and will be able to build off this loss.
The leading scorer for Youngstown State was Braun Hartfield who finished with 22 points. He was red hot from behind the arc and went for 4-6 for the night. Also displaying some sharp long ball shooting was Jaylon Benton who sunk 3 of 5. Not to be left out from the 3-point party was Cameron Morse who went 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, including the game winner.
Leading the scoring for Cleveland State was sharp shooting Bobby Word with 24 big points. Those 24 included 5 from behind the 3-point arc, and the 2 huge late ones that gave Cleveland State a chance. The Penguins dominated the glass 34 to 24, and also controlled the lane outscoring the Vikings in the paint 38 to 32, however most of that dominance came in the lopsided first half.
The first half was all YSU as they held a 43-32 lead at halftime. They jumped out to a 13-2 lead then extended it to 34-18 with 6:47 left in the half, their largest of the half. They did it with clutch shooting from beyond the arc, going 6 for 10 for the half. Led by hot handed Braun Hartfield who sunk 3 of 4.
Stopping the long ball wasn’t the only problem for the Vikings as they also struggled to shut down the lane. The Penguins drove and dunked at will. Youngstown finished with 20 points in the paint for the half, while CSU only had 12.
The physical play did not stop there however, as the Penguins also dominated the boards. Finished with the 21 to 10 edge on the glass. Led by Naz Bohannon who had 7 boards. The premise was simple, CSU continued to pass up open layups and dribble penetration drives to dish outside three’s, only to miss them. Finishing 5 of 14 in the first half cemented that fact.
The Vikings next play Thursday night at home against the visiting Green Bay Phoenix.
The head coach of CSU is Dennis Felton. The Head coach of YSU is Jerod Calhoun.
YSU 43 37 = 80
CSU 32 45 = 77