By John Ostapowicz
For the first time in program history, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team clinched the Horizon League Regular-Season Conference Championship title.
Head coach Jerrod Calhoun said he knows the importance of securing the number one seed for the first time in program history.
“It’s what you’ve worked for to get home court advantage,” Calhoun said. “We have to be locked in and ready to go.”
The Penguins completed their final game of the regular season against Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis on Feb. 25. In the Jungle, Youngstown State defeated the Jaguars, 93-79.
The offense found its rhythm early, as five Penguins scored in double figures. Graduate student Malek Green led the way with 21 points, while graduate student Adrian Nelson and senior Brandon Rush both posted 18 points.
Late in the second period, the Panthers cut the lead down to eight, while senior Dwayne Cohill scored 10 points, and finished with 16 points and seven assists.
The team ended the season with a 23-8 overall record, which marked the first time in its Division I history it won 23 games in the regular season. The team’s 15-5 record in conference play also set a new program record in conference wins.
On Feb. 23, Cohill was named to the Horizon League Men’s Basketball All-Academic Team for the second-straight season and third since 2019.
With the conclusion of the regular season Feb. 27, head coach Jerrod Calhoun was named the 2022-23 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year. The nod marked the first time a Youngstown State men’s basketball head coach has won the award.
Three players earned postseason honors as Cohill earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First-Team. Senior Brandon Rush and Nelson were named to the All-Horizon League Third- Team, while freshman John Lovelace Jr. was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.
This is the first time in program history that four Youngstown State players were named to the all-conference teams in the same season.
For Cohill, it marks the first time since the 2018-20 seasons that a player earned all-league honors in consecutive years. The award also made him the sixth player in program history named to the all-conference team multiple times.
Cohill finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in the league in five different categories. He was second with 4.9 assists per game, third with a .529 field goal percentage, fifth with a .857 free-throw percentage, sixth with 17.8 points per game and ninth with 1.4 steals per game.
With the win over the Jaguars, the Penguins earned the number one seed in the upcoming 2023 Barbasol Horizon League Basketball Championship and will host a quarterfinals game at 8 p.m. March 2 against the University of Detroit Mercy inside the Beeghly Center.
With a chance to travel to Indianapolis to play in the Horizon League semifinals March 6, stakes are high going into the game.
“It’s win or go home, there’s five or six seniors on this team and if we lose we will never put a jersey on with Youngstown again,” Cohill said. “We didn’t come here to do that.”
To watch the game visit ESPN+ or listen in on 570 WKBN.