By Cameron Niemi
Last week, the Youngstown State men’s basketball team continued its home stand, hosting two games. On Feb. 2, Wright State University came to town, and the Penguins picked up their 10th conference win of the season in a triple overtime thriller by a final score of 91-89.
Despite shooting 19.4% from 3-point range, the ‘Guins dominated in the paint, as they scored 50 points.
Four players scored in double figures. Senior Dwayne Cohill scored the buzzer-beater layup with just six seconds remaining in the third overtime. Cohill scored 19 points, eight assists and added five rebounds. Senior Brandon Rush added 15 points and seven rebounds.
Graduate students Malek Green and Adrian Nelson both recorded a double-double. Green scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds. Nelson had 27 points and 15 rebounds, which tied his career high. He also led the team with six steals, which is another career high.
In the first half, Wright State’s biggest lead was seven points. Youngstown State cut that down and took a 32-29 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Raiders led by eight points with less than ten minutes to play. The Penguins fought back and led by five — with less than thirty seconds left. Wright State’s Trey Calvin scored five straight points to tie the game at 62, which sent the game to its first overtime.
The Penguins lead 68-66 with under two minutes remaining. Calvin once again tied the game for the Raiders with a layup and sent the game to double overtime.
The Raiders led with two points and less than three minutes to play. The Penguins fought back and junior Myles Hunter hit a layup with fifty seconds remaining to go up by three.
Calvin made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 79 for a third time with just five seconds remaining.
In triple overtime, the Penguins hopped out to an early four point lead. The Raiders cut the lead down and Calvin tied the game at 89 with just six seconds remaining.
Cohill got the inbound in the back court, took it all the way down the lane and scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer. This secured the team’s third straight victory and improved to 18-6 for the year.
Head coach Jerrod Calhoun spoke after the game about Cohill’s game winner and also about his team’s grit in a triple overtime game.
“Really happy Dwayne finished, this team is just resilient. I can’t thank the crowd enough, I thought they got us through it, everybody was exhausted,” Calhoun said.
On Feb. 4, Northern Kentucky University came to town with a 10-3 Horizon League record, tied with Youngstown. The Penguins got their revenge from an earlier overtime loss in the season. The Penguins won in a dominant performance by a final of 74-56.
In front of a packed crowd at Beeghly Center. The Penguins improved their 3-point shooting, as they shot 41.2% from beyond the arc and 58.8% from the field. YSU dominated the Norse in the paint, outscoring them by 20 points.
Four players for the Penguins scored in double figures again. Rush led the way with 18 points and four rebounds. Nelson recorded his third straight double-double, as he scored 17 points and 12 rebounds. Cohill scored 15 points and had six assists.
Green scored 13 points and had nine rebounds. Freshman John Lovelace Jr. came off the bench and scored seven points with four rebounds.
In the first half, the men got off to a slow start as they went down by five, but eventually climbed back and led by as many as eight points. Northern Kentucky cut that lead down before halftime. The Penguins led at half, 36-32.
The Penguins came out hot defensively, in the second half. Offensively, they outscored NKU 38-24.
The team jumped out to an early 11 point lead and never looked back. With just nine minutes remaining, it went on a 10-0 scoring run and led by as many as 23 points.
Youngstown State would go on to secure the 18 point victory, picking up its 11th conference win of the season and fourth win in a row. The Penguins now have sole possession of first place in the Horizon League with a conference record of (11-3).
Calhoun spoke after the game about the team being in first place in the Horizon League and the six games remaining on the schedule.
“A lot of people doubted us, they said this is not a basketball school and we can’t get it done. What this team has is talent, toughness and they got that Youngstown mentality,” Calhoun said. “We gotta keep going, it’s not going to be easy. The next six games are going to be very difficult, we have two on the road against two really good teams. ”
The Penguins remained in first place after the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay upset the University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee in overtime, Feb. 6.
The Penguins go on a two-game road trip starting Feb. 10, as they head to Fort Wayne Indiana to take on Purdue University Fort Wayne at 7 p.m. Then on Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. They travel to Cleveland State University. Both games can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.