“Paint the Town Red”

Brett Thompson celebrates after sinking a three in the Beeghly Center. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux

While Youngstown State University students took a break after the fall semester, the YSU men’s basketball team took to the court and continued its season slate. 

The team started its win streak after a home victory versus Cleveland State University and road wins against Robert Morris University, Ohio University and Western Michigan University.

Youngstown State played four straight games in the Beeghly Center, hosting Bethany College, Westminster College, The United States Naval Academy and Oakland University to restart Horizon League play.

The team also played Northern Kentucky University on the road and hosted the University of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

Against Western Michigan, the team pulled out a close 72-68 victory, with the leading scorer for the game being fifth-year Ziggy Reid with 25 points on 9-17 shooting.

In the team’s return home, it passed the century mark in its next two victories, with a 107-70 victory over the Bethany Bison and a 117-45 win over Westminster.

Against Bethany, sophomore John Lovelace Jr. led the game in scoring with 23 points, including 10 field goals. 

Junior EJ Farmer had 20 of the team’s 117 points against Westminster, with fifth-year Brett Thompson contributing a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists.

Navy stood in the way of a seventh-straight win for the Penguins, but 23 points from fifth-year Brandon Rush proved too much for the Midshipmen. Fifth-year DJ Burns also had a double-double performance, putting in 19 points and 13 rebounds. Burns had three blocks and a steal in the win.

Going into the matchup with Oakland, head coach Jerrod Calhoun gave much praise to Oakland and its toughness — especially its schedule and players.

“They have played the 12th hardest schedule in the country. They’ve been at Illinois, at [The] Ohio State [University], at Xavier [University],” Calhoun said. “They’re big, they’re long, they’re tough — a very good team [that will] be right at the top of this conference.”

The Penguins’ win streak ended at seven games after a 88-81 loss to Oakland in the Beeghly Center. YSU shot 44% from the field and 43% from three. The team shot 56% from beyond the arc in the first half and just 25% in the second half.

Freshman center Gabe Dynes throws down a dunk against Oakland at home. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The leading scorer for the ‘Guins was Reid, who had 16 points and led the team in rebounds with seven.

Back on the road against Northern Kentucky on Jan. 4, YSU held a 45-36 lead at halftime. Despite the early advantage, 29 points from NKU guard Marques Warrick led a comeback for the Norse, handing YSU its second straight loss, 79-76.

Attempting to break the losing streak at home, YSU hosted IUPUI on Jan. 7. YSU was down at the half, 32-31, but managed an 11-point advantage over the Jaguars in the second half to secure a 75-65 victory. 

Thompson was the game’s leading scorer with a season-high 20 points — all in the second half. He shot over 50% from the field at 7-13 while also tallying 6 assists. 

YSU will return to the court at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 to take on conference foe Purdue University Fort Wayne. The Mastodons are 13-3 overall with a 4-1 Horizon League record — first in the conference. The game can be watched on ESPN+ and live stats can be viewed at ysusports.com.

YSU will also be at home at 9 p.m. on Jan. 12 against Wright State University, which will be nationally televised on ESPN2. YSU is hosting  a “Red Out” for the game, encouraging Penguin fans to wear red.