Defensive mistakes cost men's basketball against Youngstown State

Chicago freshman Kevin Miller brings the ball up the floor against Western Illinois Sunday, Dec. 5, in McGuirk Arena.

Despite it's best shooting performance of the young season, Central Michigan men's basketball could not earn a victory for the eight time this season, falling victim to Youngstown State. 

The Penguins took charge on their home court, defeating the Chippewas 84-77, sending them home with their sixth-straight loss on Wednesday night.

The loss to the Penguins leaves CMU at 1-8 on the season despite shooting 30-of-55 from the field and 10-of-19 from 3-point range. Youngstown State is now to 5-3. 

“This is about the progression of a young program, getting better day by day,” said head coach Tony Barbee. “An area we need to improve on rapidly is the defense end of the floor, then we have to get more production out of our five in position. It’s a long season of getting better and I think we are getting better but not fast enough in the area we need the most.”

For a second straight game in a row, CMU was without leading scorer Jermaine Jackson Jr. due to the flu. The Chippewas had to find another way to put up the points to keep up with the Penguins leading scorer Tevin Olison, who registered 17 of his 21 points in the first half. 

After trailing by 12 points at intermission, CMU slowly began to turn the tide on the Penguins. A Harrison Henderson 3-pointer triggered a 10-4 Chippewa lead to cut the deficit in half. 

The Penguins re-claimed momentum to take a double-digit lead with 16:29 to play. An and-1 opportunity capped a 12-4 run to hang 60-56 with 11:23 remaining. 

It would ultimately be as close as the Chippewas would get. Despite six ties, four lead changes and outscoring YSU 43-38 in the final 20 minutes, CMU would succumb for its sixth-straight defeat. 

CMU made a quick start making their first five shots against the Penguins. YSU responded fast, going on a 17- 3 run. The Penguins took the largest lead of the game at 15 points, before the Chippewas Oscar Lopez Jr. shocked the floor with his third basket from beyond the arc.

Lopez had a team-best of 21 points, going 3-of-5 beyond the arc. Not far behind was Ralph Bassainthe with 15 points and six rebounds off the bench, knocking down six of his eight shot attempts. Freshman guard Kevin Miller had a game-best of seven assists. 

Olison led the penguins with a team-high of 21 points behind 3-of-3 shooting beyond the arc and shot 7-of-8 from the field.  

The Penguins went 32-of-57 from the field and scored 12 points off 13 CMU turnovers. The Chippewas and the Penguins both finished with 26 rebounds and 23 bench points. CMU outscored the Penguins in the paint 36-32. 

The Chippewas will be back in McGuirk Arena to play University of Illinois-Chicago at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.