FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Youngstown State 10-4, Detroit 13-4. Away Record: Youngstown State 6-10, Detroit 5-8. Neutral Record: Youngstown State 0-0, Detroit 1-1. Conference Record: Youngstown State 10-8, Detroit 11-7. Series Record: Detroit leads, 23-8.
GAMES NOTES: The Youngstown State Penguins and the Detroit Titans will meet up in the first quarterfinal matchup of the Horizon League Tournament at the Athletics-Recreation Center this evening.
This will be the second time this week these two squads will face off as they also met last Saturday with Detroit slipping by with a 76-74 win in the season finale. The Titans now lead the all-time series 23-8.
Youngstown State earned the sixth seed for the tournament and was paired up with seventh-seeded Green Bay in the first round. The Penguins took a dominating 77-60 win in that matchup to bounce back from a stretch of three losses in four games to close out the regular season. The Penguins were a mediocre team overall at 16-14 and were also two games above .500 in the Horizon League with 10 wins against eight losses.
Detroit had a much better overall season (19-13) but ended up just a game ahead of the Penguins and in a three-way tie for third place with Milwaukee and Butler at 11-7 in league play. The Titans held the tiebreakers against both of those squads and earned the third-seed and a first round matchup with 10th-seeded Loyola-Chicago, which resulted in an 80-71 win. Detroit entered the postseason with a great deal of momentum with wins in six of its last seven games.
Youngstown State had five players in double figures and shot at an 47.5 percent clip in the game to secure the win. The Penguins also played well on defense forcing 17 turnovers while committing seven and holding Green Bay to just nine field goals in the second half.
On the season the Penguins were the third best scoring team in the Horizon league (67.3 ppg) but played in a number of close games with a scoring differential of just +2.2. Junior forward Damian Eagle (10.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) had a stellar opening round performance, scoring 17 points and coming a rebound short of a double-double. It seemed as if everyone got in the mix in the first round for Youngstown State, with four other players in double figures. the Horizon League's regular season scoring leader Kendrick Perry (16.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) had 15 points, DuShawn Brooks (9.6 pg) almost doubled his season average by netting 16, Ashen Ward (10.2 ppg) added 14 points and Blake Allen (13.1 ppg) scored 11 points and handed out seven assists.
Detroit also had a slew of players score in double figures in its win over Loyola-Chicago in the first round. The Titans used the balanced scoring attack to overcome a disadvantage in shooting percentage after they connected on 45.1 percent while the Ramblers hit on an even 50.0 percent. The Titans also tightened things up defensively, forcing the Ramblers into 24 turnovers.
Detroit's offense has been the key to its success all year with the team scoring a conference-best 72.5 points per game. Senior forward Eli Holman (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg) was the lead scorer in the first round as he poured in 20 points which was the most he has scored since putting in 21 against William & Mary in early December. Chase Simon (13.9 ppg) and Doug Anderson (9.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) were also above their season averages as they put in 19 and 18 points, respectively. The regular season leader Ray McCallum (14.9 ppg, 3.8 apg) didn't need to score as much with the rest of the team stepping up, but still managed to get in double figures with 10 points, matched by Jason Calliste (10.1 ppg).
Both of these teams showed that they can get scoring from anywhere on the roster in their first-round victories. Detroit however, has been scoring at a higher rate all season and although Youngstown State will certainly be able to stay in the contest, the Titans will come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Detroit 76, Youngstown State 70
03/02 10:33:26 ET
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