YOUNGSTOWN – John Lovelace Jr. hit four of the first five shots against Lake Erie.
As the shots continued to fall, the Youngstown State sophomore’s teammates told him to keep shooting.
“It felt good – the boys were telling me to keep going,” Lovelace said. “He kept bringing me the ball and I kept going. They believed in me and I am very grateful for that.”
Lovelace had a great performance against the Storm, finishing with 29 points on 12-for-17 shooting in the Penguins’ 79-57 victory Sunday at the Beeghly Center.
“I was in a position. When the shot goes in, you have the confidence to shoot somebody,” Lovelace said. “So when the boys tell you to shoot, it just makes you more excited. …
It was the second straight game that YSU got a spark from the bench. On Friday night against Utah Tech, Jaylen Bates came in and scored 12 points for the Penguins.
Against the Storm, it was Lovelace’s turn.
“If you look at what we’ve done the last two games, it’s two guys that haven’t started,” head coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “Two guys who probably weren’t happy about going to the second division and not having the same guys in practice. So maybe I should do that a little bit. Maybe I need to do a better job of challenging guys and getting more out of guys. We really have to do that.”
With 6:42 left in the first half, YSU led by 13, the Penguins’ biggest lead to that point. But the storm changed.
Lake Erie went to the zone, developing a 1-2-2 zone to slow YSU down. Then when they returned to the court, the Storm fell into the 2-3 zone.
YSU’s offense continued in the final four minutes of the half, as Lake Erie closed in on a 10-0 run that included three back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game 32-32 at halftime.
“I was glad he (went to the zone) because we’ll see that against Dayton, but it’s going to be a little bit more,” Calhoun said. “So it was good for us. We have never seen that before. I think some of these things when you’re thrown into the fire with a lot of new guys – I don’t care, D1, D2, whatever – whoever you’re playing, just seeing the different things being thrown at you is good. So that 1-2-2 was very useful for them. Not very helpful to us. But we hadn’t seen it yet and we had one day to prepare. But we came to terms with it and settled down in the second half. “
Although Lake Erie took their first half and took the lead early in the second period, the Penguins took the lead again in the 16th minute.
Lovelace continued what he started in the first half. After scoring 14 in the first half, he added 15 in the second as YSU outscored the Storm 47-25. Lovelace’s career day was highlighted by a solo steal and a tomahawk dunk late in the second half.
Ziggy Reid finished with 12 points for the Penguins, while DJ Burns chipped in with 11.
“There is a standard here and the way we want to play,” Calhoun said. “We didn’t play like that in the first half – credit to (Lake Erie). And some of our weaknesses really showed up. I thought in the second half, the kids locked in. We had 11 points well from the three-point line and the field, we’re in control. That’s what it’s all about. it goes down, but you can’t have 14 turnovers and go 7-for-27 from 3. That doesn’t help either.
“We have a lot of things to fix. We’re not where we need to be, but I told them this week, the potential is there. Do we have good ideas and good work? That’s what we have to find. “
After three games in less than a week, the Penguins now have a few days before they travel to Dayton to face the Flyers on Black Friday at 7 p.m.