By Cameron Stubbs & John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team opened up its season versus Canisius College on Nov. 7 with a 92-81 win.
This was the eighth meeting versus the Golden Griffins as the Penguins won last year’s matchup, 71-43, in Youngstown.
Four Penguins finished in double figures as the Penguins shot a remarkable 70.6% from the field to score 58 points in the first half.
The rebound game was also won by the Penguins in the first half as they out-rebounded the Golden Griffins 24 to 10 and finished the game with a 48 to 26 rebounding advantage.
Graduate student Malek Green had 19 points in the first half for the Penguins and finished with a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double against his former team.
Senior Brandon Rush scored 10 points in the first half and finished with 16 total, shooting four-for-five from 3-point range, while graduate student Adrian Nelson also finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Senior Dwayne Cohill was the last Penguin in double figures as he finished with 15 points along with six rebounds and three assists.
The home opener was next as the Penguins took on the University of Tennessee at Martin in Beeghly Center on Nov. 9.
The 90-72 win was led by Cohill as he posted 19 points along with five assists. Green, Rush and Nelson all scored in double figures as well.
The defensive effort for the team relied heavily on Nelson and Green giving the teams’ problems down the stretch.
“Everything starts on the defense and if we buy into that, we can be a real problem,” Nelson said.
Rounding out the top scorers was freshman John Lovelace Jr. who, in just his second collegiate game, scored a career-high 10 points.
Lovelace’s performance over the first week of the season earned him Horizon League Men’s Basketball Freshman of the Week honors. This has not been accomplished by a Penguin freshman since the 2018-19 season.
Lovelace Jr. has played in four games with the Penguins and is averaging 7.5 points per game.
“He’s one of the best athletes, if not the best athlete on the team, he incorporates himself with hard work,” Calhoun said.
The men’s basketball team then traveled to South Bend, Indiana to take on the University of Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion on Nov. 13.
The hard-fought matchup ended with the Fighting Irish defeating the Penguins 88-81 as graduate student Adrian Nelson recorded his second double-double of the season to help rally the Penguins to a second half comeback, but came up short.
His dominant performance included a career-high 27 points as well as 10 rebounds.
The Penguins traveled back home to Beeghly Center on Nov. 15 to take on Grace Christian University in the first ever meeting between the two teams. Youngstown State bested the Tigers, 96-68, to get back into the winning column.
For the men’s basketball team, four players reached double figures in scoring, as well as all 14 players getting in the scoring column. One of those players is sophomore walk-on Tommy Fryda.
“Tommy joined us late, a great kid and comes to practice everyday and just got on the team and that’s what type of team we have as everyone is pulling for one another,” Calhoun said.
With the win, the Penguins continue to stay undefeated at home with a 2-0 record and stand 3-1 overall.
The victory over the Tigers also notches the 199th career win in Calhoun’s resume. He is in his sixth season as the Penguins’ head coach and is the only coach in program history to lead the Penguins to multiple postseason bids.
The men’s basketball team will have a tough schedule ahead as it heads to the University of California, San Diego, on Nov. 19, as well as the United States Naval Academy on Nov. 20 in Annapolis, Maryland. To watch these games, check out ESPN+ or listen on 570 WKBN.