In a truly epic battle Monday night, Youngstown State shocked Oakland, 100-98, on a tip-in by junior center Jorden Kaufman with one second left. With the game tied at 95, freshman point guard Latin Davis elevated to hit a three-pointer over Oakland’s Kay Felder. Felder then answered with a three of his own, tying the game at 98 with 32 seconds left. The Penguins put the ball in the hands of their best player to hold for one last shot. As the clocked went under five seconds, Cameron Morse dribble-drove to the left and narrowly missed a lay-up that rimmed out. However, Kaufman was able to use his size to reach over the high-leaping Felder and tip the ball in. But the basket was initially waved off, as the shot clock hit zero and the game clock strangely stopped (at 1.3 seconds) before the ball even went in the basket. A delay of several minutes ensued as the officials discussed the situation with one another and looked at replays on the monitor. No matter how long the delay took, the officials got the call right, as the shot clock should reset after Morse’s lay-up hit the rim. Therefore, the tip-in was good with time to spare as one-second was left on the clock. But it was not enough time for the Golden Grizzlies to even get a shot off. The exciting finish was memorable enough. But from the opening tip, the game was an instant classic filled with hot shooting and unsung role players stepping up big.
Youngstown State was very impressive was from the beginning, leading by as many as 12 points late in the first half. Freshman Jordan Andrews exploded for 16 first half points, including hitting four three-pointers. The Penguins shot a stunning 50% from downtown in the game (16-32). Some of their threes were even scored in transition, as they played at a high-tempo pace offensively, attempting a mind-boggling 85 field goals. Cameron Morse continued to impress with his controlled ball-handling, as he was a focal point of the offense scoring 23 points and dishing out six assists. Matt Donlan only shot 1-5 from 2-point range. But his 5-9 effort from behind the arc enabled him to score 19 points in another great effort. But the X-factor for the
Penguins was Kaufman, who really exerted his will in the second half by grabbing all 13 of his rebounds in the latter frame, and scoring 16 of his 18 points then. Six of his rebounds were offensive ones, as the Penguins had 15 offensive rebounds overall, enabling them to get second chance opportunities and control the pace of play more. This was a total 180 degree shift from Saturday, as Kaufman was ineffective and seemed frustrated against Detroit Mercy. The more athletic Hayes had a tough time guarding Kaufman, who proved that big guys can run the floor when he finished with a running lay-up after an impressive pass from Latin Davis. It is perplexing that Oakland did not put Percy Gibson on the floor to guard Kaufman, as they are both physical players. Gibson sat nearly the entire second half, as Coach Greg Kampe elected to go with a smaller, four guard lineup much of that half. If Kaufman can continue to play this well, the Penguins should be able to be more competitive than they thought in the Horizon League. Their confidence should also be through the roof after winning at one of the league’s toughest venues.
Oakland was expectedly led by Felder with 23 points and 14 assists. But he worked hard for those points and got few open looks. Nick Daniels finally broke out of his season-long funk scoring a career high 21 points, including 6-9 from three. Jalen Hayes got another double-double, despite some of his interior defense being suspect. Oakland should continue to be encouraged by the strong play of power forward Xavier Hill-Mais, who was very efficient in only 13 minutes. Oakland (9-6, 1-1) will look to bounce back in a now even more crucial matchup when they host Valparaiso on Friday night on ESPN2. Youngstown State (6-9, 1-1) hosts Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday night.