The Youngstown State Penguins looked to steal the Horizon League opener at Detroit Mercy on Saturday afternoon, despite star senior center Bobby Hain not making the trip due to a foot injury. But a dominating second half by the Titans was too much for the Penguins to overcome as UDM won 96-87. The Titans were led by a career-high 34 point performance from senior guard Anton Wilson, who also had nine rebounds. Forward Jaleel Hogan also had a career-high 17 points. Youngstown State clearly had more energy out of the gate than the Titans, who looked flat and out of sync. The Titans biggest lead of the first half, 24-20, was short-lived as the Penguins ended the half on a 24-13 run to lead 43-37 at halftime. But the second half belonged to the Titans, who led by as many as 17 points with 1:55 left. The problem for Youngstown State was that they lacked any consistent interior scoring presence, and it eventually caught up with them. 7-footer Jorden Kaufman was largely ineffective on both ends, finishing with just two points in limited duty. Sophomore forward Sydney Umude had nine of his 13 points in the first half. Youngstown State actually shot the ball better than the Titans at 51.7% compared to 47.8%. But the Titans made nine more free throws than the visitors, which turned out to be the difference in the final score.
Youngstown State was led by junior sharp-shooter Matt Donlan, who was as good as advertised hitting six three-pointers en route to 22 points. Flint native Cameron Morse had 24 points and four steals. But the biggest glaring difference was the utter domination on the glass as the Titans outrebounded the Penguins 53-20. The Titans actually had one more offensive rebound than YSU had total rebounds. This explains the Titans gaudy 22-4 advantage in second-chance points, and also shows just how badly the 6’10” Hain was missed. Youngstown State did see some positive minutes from a couple of point guards, as Francisco Santiago had six assists and freshman Latin Davis, from Ypsilanti, had three assists and was a very good on-ball defender. For the Titans, sophomore Paris Bass added 14 points. He and Umude each received a technical foul as they were jawing at one another as a time-out was being called in the second half. This was a few minutes after Umude had an emphatic blocked shot on Bass, and the Penguin defender let him know about it. Both players saw more of the bench than the floor after the double-technical, but there were no further incidents. Youngstown State (5-9, 0-1) travels north on I-75 to take on Oakland on Monday night, while the Titans (7-5, 1-0) continue their home-stand with Cleveland State the same night.