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Loyola blows 14-point lead in second half in loss to Youngstown State

Updated: February 7, 2013 6:50AM

Youngstown State junior Kendrick Perry, who was scoreless from the field in the first half, had 14 points in the second half, including a banker with four seconds left that proved to be the winner in a 68-66 victory Saturday over Loyola (10-4, 1-1 Horizon League) at Gentile Arena.

Perry, who torched the Ramblers a year ago with 28 points in a lopsided 80-63 victory, finished with 18 points, but it was the double-figure scoring from senior Damien Eargle (20 points) and the three-point shooting by junior Kamren Belin (13 points) that sunk the Ramblers in what coach Porter Moser described as a second-half defensive lapse.

‘‘We have to know who we are,’’ said Moser, whose team failed to protect a 14-point lead in the second half. ‘‘You give up [58 percent] from the field in the second half on your home floor, it’s not hard to figure out [the loss].’’

The Penguins’ comeback started when Loyola senior Ben Averkamp (18 points, eight rebounds) was whistled for his fourth foul with eight minutes left and Loyola ahead 59-49.

Perry’s two free throws started a 9-2 run for the Penguins (9-6, 1-1), who then finished with a 10-1 run over the last 3:25.

‘‘I knew they would do everything they could to limit my touches, but I made a stupid frustration play,’’ Averkamp said. ‘‘I got wrapped up [by Perry] and wanted to get him off me. It was just stupid.’’

Averkamp was on the free-throw line with 39 seconds left and the Ramblers trailing 66-65, but he made only one of two. He had a chance to tie the game with one second left but missed the front end of the one-and-one.

‘‘But that didn’t cost us the game,’’ Moser said. ‘‘I will always want Ben on the foul line for us. We had a lead and let up [defensively]. It’s the first time we’ve played with Ben in foul trouble that early, and we didn’t handle it well.’’

The Ramblers trailed in the first half by nine before rallying in the last two minutes to take a 35-30 halftime lead.

Sophomore Joe Crisman held Perry, the conference’s second-leading scorer, without a field goal until the 13:05 mark in the second half.

‘‘I knew he was one of the best scorers in the league, and Coach gave me the assignment,’’ Crisman said. ‘‘I did a good job for about 35 minutes. But he made some key shots, and that was a key in the end.

‘‘They had that [scoring] stretch when Ben was out, and that’s on the other five of us. We can’t expect Ben to be in the whole game. We had a lapse on the offensive end, too.’’

The loss ended the Ramblers’ four-game winning streak that included victories last week against DePaul and Horizon League defending champion Valparaiso.

‘‘It’s a positive that there is excitement around the program, but any success we have and will have is by defending, and that’s on me,’’ Moser said.

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