The Penguins from Youngstown State visited the James A. Rhodes Arena Monday as they continued their swing through MAC competition. After losing to Buffalo (80-74) and Toledo (86-76), the Penguins were looking for the third time to be the charm against Akron.
When the officiating crew came out during warm-ups, I immediately became worried. One referee in particular, Bo Boroski, has a bad reputation with Zips fans. He has made some questionable calls against the Zips in prior years and this game was his first venture inside of the JAR this season. Let's face it, if you know a referee's name, it's because he is very good (Ed Hightower, Jim Burr) or someone like Boroski. I'm not saying he is a bad referee, he just has a history of making questionable calls. Complaining about officials is commonplace among fans of all teams, but some fans (including myself) need to cut the guys some slack. That's one profession that I think I would never want to be in.
This match-up of MAC and Horizon League is very common, especially with these two teams because of their proximity to each other. These two leagues play each other multiple times each season, and some have called for the "challenge" format to be implemented, a la the Big Ten/ACC or MVC/MWC Challenges. I don't know if the MAC and Horizon would benefit from having a structured challenge format, but it is fun to think about. If you are curious (and I know you are), the Horizon League leads the MAC head-to-head this season, 10-9. Last year, the Horizon "won" 17-11. These two conferences are right beside each other in ESPN's conference rankings (HL 13, MAC 14), so the competition will most of the time be pretty even. The logistics don't seem to work though, seeing as the Horizon League has 10 teams while the MAC sports 12 members. It may come to fruition someday, but the two conferences seem to be happy right where they are currently.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, it was just not their night. The lack of depth and size combined with heavy legs from the long road trip ultimately led to YSU's downfall. The two Rust Belt teams were tied at 17 just eight minutes into the game, but Akron's 19-5 run over the next eight minutes put the game out of reach. The Zips led by 11 at halftime and had pushed the lead out to 26 at one point in the second half before the benches were cleared. Freshman forward Demetrius Treadwell led the Zips with 15 and 6, while DuShawn Brooks paced YSU with 20 points. No other Penguin was in double digits scoring-wise, while Akron had five total (and four starters) score 10 or more. That makes the "challenge" 10-10 with four games left. It'll be interesting to see who takes the "challenge" this year.
The Zips play North Carolina A&T at home on Wednesday before the biggest non-conference match-up against VCU four days after Christmas. In the midst of all these cupcakes, I can't wait to see an exciting game like that one should be.
at AKRON 88, YOUNGSTOWN STATE 62 12/19/2011
YOUNGSTOWN STATE 6-5 (1-1) -- D. Eargle 3-9 2-4 8; K. Perry 4-11 0-1 8; D. Brooks 7-11 1-1 20; B. Allen 2-6 1-2 6; J. Amiker 2-4 1-2 5; N. Perry 2-4 0-1 6; D. Cole 2-3 0-1 4; A. Ward 0-3 0-0 0; C. Zuiker 1-4 0-0 3; F. Larson 0-2 0-0 0; J. Chojnacki 1-1 0-0 2; C. Morgan 0-0 0-0 0; M. Podolsky 0-0 0-0 0; D. Reese 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-59 5-12 62. AKRON 6-5 (0-0) -- Z. Marshall 4-11 1-3 9; N. Cvetinovic 6-11 1-1 14; B. Walsh 2-6 4-4 10; A. Abreu 3-4 2-2 10; Q. Diggs 0-4 4-4 4; B. McClanahan 3-7 1-2 9; C. Gilliam 5-7 0-0 12; D. Treadwell 7-11 1-2 15; A. Ibitayo 0-0 1-2 1; J. Egner 0-3 2-2 2; M. Green 0-1 0-0 0; C. Oldham 1-1 0-0 2; K. Petersen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-67 17-22 88.
Three-point goals: YSU 9-29 (A. Ward 0-2; B. Allen 1-5; D. Brooks 5-9; K. Perry 0-5; N. Perry 2-4; C. Zuiker 1-3; D. Reese 0-1), AKR 9-23 (C. Gilliam 2-3; B. Walsh 2-5; B. McClanahan 2-5; N. Cvetinovic 1-2; Q. Diggs 0-3; A. Abreu 2-2; J. Egner 0-1; M. Green 0-1; D. Treadwell 0-1); Rebounds: YSU 30 (D. Eargle 9), AKR 45 (Z. Marshall 11); Assists: YSU 11 (K. Perry 5), AKR 17 (Q. Diggs 5); Total Fouls -- YSU 22, AKR 16; Fouled Out: YSU-None; AKR-None.