GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) and freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) created an impressive tandem Tuesday night, and the result was another home victory for a Green Bay men's basketball team (11-14, 7-8 HL) that is now 10-2 at the Resch Center in 2011-12.
Cougill scored 10 points and had four assists to keep the Phoenix around during a sluggish first half that ended with the Phoenix trailing 28-27, and Sykes was incredible down the stretch, scoring or assisting on 12 of Green Bay's 14 second-half field goals to lead his team to a 71-65 victory over visiting Youngstown State (14-12, 9-7 HL), a team that won the first meeting 77-47.
All told, Cougill had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes and Sykes finished with 17 points and a career-high 10 assists without committing a turnover in 37 minutes. Sykes' 10-assist game was the first by a Phoenix player since Rahmon Fletcher had 10 against Vermont on March 18, 2009 and the first 10-assist game in a Horizon League game by a Green Bay player since Feb. 3, 2007.
Youngstown State's Damian Eargle scored the first four points of the second half to give the Penguins their biggest lead of the night (32-27) with 18:52 to play, but Sykes sparked a 11-0 Phoenix run that changed the game. He first found sophomore Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) for a dunk in the lane, scored on a layup and hit senior Steve Baker (St. Paul, Minn.) for a three on consecutive possessions as part of the spurt that gave the hosts a 38-32 lead.
The Phoenix lead moved from one to seven with the teams trading min runs over the next 13 minutes before YSU tied the game at 61 on a tough three-pointer from Blake Allen with 1:47 to play.
Green Bay answered when Cougill drained a triple on a pick-and-pop play from Sykes for a 64-61 lead. Sykes then forced a five-second call against Allen before knocking down a jumper that hit the rim four times before falling through with 41 seconds left. Green Bay made 5-of-6 free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.
Sykes' first career double-double included 12 points and seven assists in 20 minutes after halftime. He scored or assisted on every Phoenix bucket over the final seven and a half minutes. The freshman's play helped Green Bay shoot 60.9 percent from the field (14-23) in the second half.
Brown added 14 points and nine rebounds for Green Bay with Baker giving the hosts four players in double figures by scoring all 11 of his points off the bench. Baker made 3-of-5 three-pointers for the second-straight game, helping the Phoenix to a 9-of-20 effort from long range. Sophomore Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) drained two threes and has now made at least one in 14 consecutive games.
Green Bay breaks from Horizon League play on Saturday when it hosts Eastern Michigan at 1 p.m. in a Sears BracketBuckers contest at the Resch Center. The Eagles will come to the Resch Center at 11-15 overall and 6-6 in the Mid-American Conference.
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