By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team capped off their regular season, taking on Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Feb. 12-13 and IUPUI Feb.19-20 at the Beeghly Center.
On Feb. 12, the team shot 53.3% from the field in the second half and had five players reach double figures to knock the Mastodons, 84-70.
Senior Michael Akuchie led the team by recording his sixth double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Garrett Covington scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, while senior Naz Bohannon had 14 points and both junior Darius Quisenberry and freshman Shemar Rathan-Mayes scored 13 points.
On Feb. 13, the men again played IPFW in a 72-70 victory. Bohannon scored a game-high 22 points to lead the team while Covington scored 16 points, including 14 in the second half. Rathan-Mayes scored 15 points and Quisenberry scored 11 points.
Head coach Jerrod Calhoun believes the team has earned itself a favorable position going into the final two games of the regular season.
“I think we’re in a really good spot,” he said. “We opened this season eight out of 10 on the road, and certainly on the back end here we got quite a bit of home games. I think it’s good to get in a routine. It’s good to play home games late in the season.”
YSU returned to action on Friday and Saturday to take on IUPUI at the Beeghly Center for the final two games of the regular season. Quisenberry scored 20 points, and Bohannon posted his fourth double-double of the season as the men’s basketball team lost 72-70 on Friday.
IUPUI went 1-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final 28.4 seconds to give the Penguins a chance. Bohannon’s putback with 10 seconds left cut YSU’s deficit to 71-70, and the Jaguars split two free throws with about 9 seconds left. Quisenberry attempted a last-second contested 3-pointer, but missed the potential game-winning shot. The team went cold in the second half, missing 14 of their last 17 shot attempts.
On Saturday, Bohannon had a team-high 23 points in a 77-70 win over the IUPUI in the regular-season finale following a tremendous first half shooting performance. YSU shot 58.6% (17-for-29) in the first half and improved to 14-11 overall and 9-11 in the Horizon League following the victory.
On Tuesday, Bohannon, Covington and Rathan-Mayes received Horizon League postseason honors after a vote by the league’s head coaches. Bohannon was named All-Horizon League Second-Team while Covington was named to the All-Defensive Team for the third straight season. Rathan-Mayes was selected to the All-Freshman Team.
Being named All-Horizon League Second-Team is a great accomplishment for Bohannon, but he is more focused on winning the next games ahead.
“It’s a great accolade, personal accolade,” he said. “But like me and Coach talked about earlier on, it is one of those things that happen when you play the right way for a certain amount of time and if something happens along the quest of trying to get to where you want to get to, it’s fine to look back on years down the line. But the ultimate goal is to win the next four games.”
The men’s basketball team will return to action after earning the No. 6 seed to host a first-round game in the 2021 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship against No. 11 UIC on Thursday, Feb. 25. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Beeghly Center. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+ and 570 WKBN.