Ashen Ward scored a career-high 26 points and Youngstown State defeated Illinois-Chicago 71-69 Thursday night.
Vytas Sulskis put the Penguins (6-6, 1-2 Horizon League) ahead for good on two free throws with 15.7 seconds left. The Flames (5-9, 0-2) had two chances to tie or take the lead in the waning seconds. Robo Kreps, their leading scorer this season, missed on both occasions.
Blake Allen grabbed the rebound after Kreps' miss with 2.9 seconds left and made a free throw for the final margin. Kreps' final heave fell short.
Ward, whose previous career-high was 14 points, did most of his damage from 3-point territory. He made 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and was 9 of 14 from the field. Sulskis and Dushawn Brooks each added 11 points for Youngstown State.
Paul Carter led Illinois-Chicago with 19 points. Kreps and Darrin Williams each contributed 13 points for the Flames.