By Joshua Fitch
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team fell to the Wright State University Raiders, 80-74, at Beeghly Center on Thursday. With the loss, the Penguins have now dropped seven of its last 10 games.
The Penguins (6-14, 2-5 Horizon League) were led in scoring by freshman guard Darius Quisenberry, who tallied 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from outside the arc.
YSU held a seven-point lead at halftime, but was unable to hold down the lead late in the second half. They had trouble scoring when it mattered most; in crunch time.
The Penguins last field goal came at the 4:29 mark in the second half. Late in the game, the Penguins were forced to foul often to stop the clock and get the ball back. This sent the Raiders (9-10, 3-3) to the foul line in the waning minutes of the game.
Wright State was a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line in the win, which put them into a fourth place tie at 3-3 with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Illinois-Chicago. On the flip side, YSU went just 6-of-9 throughout the game.
The Penguins gave up 28 points off its 14 turnovers and were outscored on the fastbreak 10-2. Jerrod Calhoun, head coach of the Penguins, said growing pains are tough with such a young team, but that their time will come.
“When you get a lead, you have to build on that,” Calhoun said. “It wasn’t anything that I didn’t think was going to come, we knew they were going to make a run. I feel for my young guys and all of my guys. Our young guys, I wouldn’t trade any of them. Teams can beat us now, and they better beat us now because I think you all can see that our young guys can really play.”
Another bright spot to go along with Quisenberry, was the Penguins lone senior, forward Noe Anabir. He notched a career-high 14 points in the loss, and has come into his role as of late, according to his head coach.
“He’s been tremendous,” Calhoun said. “No matter how many more games we win, he’s going to have a major impact. He’s showing the freshman the ropes. You have to have seniors to really win big in college basketball.”
While Anabir has stepped up as a leader of the team, he agrees with his coach that it takes a full-game effort to win, and acknowledged his growth as well.
“We struggled at the end of the game But we need to learn how to play 40 minutes, not 38, not 35,” Anabir said. “We have a lot of young guys and we’re trying to get there. I guess I was setting good screens, rolling hard to the basket and the ball found me. When you do good things, the ball just finds you. I played hard, and things went my way.”
Despite the struggles, Calhoun once again calls on the fans of YSU to continue their support and even strengthen their support.
“If our fans will just stay the course like our players will, I think they’re going to see a winner here,” he said. “We’re going to get there and they need to stay the course, but I also think they can be the difference. Come, and let’s win together. When you walk out in front of a packed house of 4,000, it would help us that much more.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Penguins, who will play Northern Kentucky University at Beeghly Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. The start time of the game has been moved up from 6 p.m. due to weather concerns, as the Youngstown area is anticipated to receive more than nine inches of snow.