By John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team hit the road over a two-game stretch finishing 1-1 and shaking up the Horizon league standings, Feb. 10 and 12.
The Penguins started their road trip with a hard-fought victory over Purdue University Fort Wayne. Senior Dwayne Cohill led the offense with 33 points en route to a compelling 81-72 win over the Mastodons, Feb. 10.
Inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Youngstown State popped out with a dominant offensive effort.
The effort was aided by graduate student Adrian Nelson. Nelson scored 15 points and nabbed nine rebounds, while senior Brandon Rush added 12 points.
During the first period, the Penguins went on a compelling 13-4 scoring run to close out the first half. The momentum carried into the second half, as the men took a 16-point lead early on.
Youngstown State looked to continue its winning streak Feb. 12, but came up short, 78-81 against Cleveland State University.
The Penguins lost a hard-fought match, as the lead changed 10 different times throughout the game.
Despite the loss, four players scored in double figures. Rush led the way with 20 points, attempting to jump-start the Youngstown State offense.
The defensive effort was facilitated by Nelson, who marked his 12th double-double of the season with 19 rebounds and 12 points, tying a career high in rebounds.
As the regular season draws to a close, the men’s basketball team falls to 20-7 overall and 12-4 in Horizon League play.
With an outstanding team performance this season, Cohill said it has been a long road from the start of the season until the end.
“It hasn’t been easy this whole way, and it definitely won’t be easy at the end of the season,” Cohill said.
With four games left in the season, the Horizon League standings are in a two-way tie for first between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Youngstown State.
With play-off implications looming, Youngstown State hopes to add an exclamation mark to its dominant season with a win over Purdue Fort Wayne. Head coach Jerrod Calhoun said the upcoming game will be a battle.
“It’s a great opportunity for our guys who worked really hard this year,” Calhoun said. “It’s going to be a physical and tough game.”
The men’s basketball team returns home inside the Beeghly Center, rounding out the final two home games of the season, Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.
Youngstown State tips off the two-game homestand, welcoming Milwaukee at home for the last time this season on Feb. 16. The battle of the Horizon League can be watched on ESPN+ and listened to on 570 WKBN.