YOUNGSTOWN - You could say it was the one that got away.
Youngstown State University men's basketball coach Jerry Slocum and the rest of the Penguins weren't on a fishing trip or reeling in a trout from Puffers Pond in Amherst, Mass.
Instead, YSU (4-1) was lamenting about their first loss - a game where the Penguins shot a season-low 28 of 76 from the floor against the University of Massachusetts in an 85-69 setback Sunday against the Minutemen.
"I thought it was a lost opportunity," Slocum said. "I thought we had an enough offensive looks to be in there until the last possession. We didn't shoot the ball very well at all."
Sophomore 6-foot-10 forward Bobby Hain said YSU showed they could hang with UMass.
"We definitely went out there and competed," said Hain, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss - his second straight double-double.
"It showed us we can hang with teams like that. If we would've even hit half our shots that we would've took, we would've won the ballgame."
UMass (3-0) shot 55.2 percent.
"I know everybody wants me to say Pitt's better than them or St. John's. That, right there, is as gifted an offensive team we'll see all year," Slocum said. "It was a positive in the sense we generated enough good play to win the ballgame. I'm disappointed because we didn't win it."
This week, it's a different story.
YSU hosts Thiel on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. - the nightcap of a Penguins doubleheader where the women's team hosts Northern Kentucky starting at 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, the Penguins host Westminster starting at 11:15 a.m. The Penguins football team hosts South Dakota State in their season finale starting at 2 p.m.
"You're trying to build a little crescendo, if you will, into the football game. So, it's an interesting week," Slocum said.
The YSU mentor, who coached at Gannon and Geneva prior to coming to the Penguins, hasn't forgotten his roots. Slocum said he tries to schedule local non-Division I programs.
However, he'd rather play one this week and one right after finals in mid-December. Instead, the Penguins have a game Dec. 14 at Pittsburgh.
"We never played well in that game, but it just didn't work out," Slocum said. "These are two teams I would've like to have spaced a little bit better."
In these two games, YSU wants to get its bench some work.
"One of the motivations in this game is to, obviously, play to your standard, to play to what you want in terms of execution," Slocum said. "The other thing is, if you execute well, is to get your young guys some playing time."
Hain said his team won't take Thiel and Westminster as gimme games.
"We won't take them lightly and execute on offense and defense," he said.
So far, YSU hasn't taken the play of freshman Marcus Keene lightly. The 5-11 freshman point guard has averaged 10.6 points per game and had a season-high 20 against UMass.
"Marcus is a very gifted offensive basketball player," Slocum said. "He's just as far along as a freshman in terms of offensive skills that I've coached in a really long time. The concern with Marcus is he's got to get better defensively. He can't score 20 and give up 20. With freshman, that's always the case until you get them to understand how hard you have to play at both ends of the floor.
"Marcus is a good basketball player. He brings a lift to us in every game we've played this year. Clearly in the FIU (Florida International) game, he was a major part of that spark when we were down 13."