By Marissa Masano
In its Horizon League opener Nov. 29, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team defeated Cleveland State University, 94-69, in the Beeghly Center.
Sophomore John Lovelace Jr. led all players with 23 points and eight rebounds. Fifth-year guard Brett Thompson was the Penguins’ second-highest scorer with 17 points.
Fifth-year seniors Bryson Langdon and Ziggy Reid finished in double digits with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Defensively, freshman Gabe Dynes accumulated four blocks in 16 minutes of action.
The Penguins held the Vikings to 39.3% shooting and posted seven blocked shots and eight steals.
For head coach Jerrod Calhoun, it was a group effort to shut down Cleveland State’s offense.
“I have to give our guys a lot of credit. They dissected the scouting report. I thought coach Robinson and coach Asher did a tremendous job on the defensive game plan. They had our guys ready to go defensively,” Calhoun said.
Shooting 51.6% from the field, YSU only trailed early in the contest twice. At halftime, the team led by 18 points. The largest lead was 29 points for the Penguins.
Late in the second half, the Vikings pushed, going on a 15-3 run to cut the deficit to 80-63. However, the Penguins’ offense went on a 14-6 run as they reached the final buzzer.
For Thompson, the victory is not only a motivator, but just a taste of what’s to come.
“It’s most definitely a big win. It was about making a statement at home. We don’t want to lose home games. Being a fifth-year, conference play is real critical and we are trying to do something the Penguins have never done before and that’s get to the tournament,” Thompson said.
The Penguins traveled to Moon Township, Pennsylvania on Dec. 2 to play Horizon League opponent Robert Morris University.
YSU captured its first road win this season and stayed undefeated in its first two Horizon League matchups.
The Penguins defeated the Colonials 71-57, and fifth-year DJ Burns led the offense with his fourth double-double of the season. Burns posted 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Penguins.
Thompson, Reid and fifth-year Brandon Rush also reached double figures for the Penguins.
Thompson scored 17 points with three 3-pointers. Reid had 14 points and Rush posted 12 points with three 3-pointers.
The team was strong from the 3-point line, making 10 with a 35.7% shooting percentage.
The Penguins had a two-point lead heading into halftime, and extended its lead in the opening moments of the second half by 11 points.
Youngstown State increased its lead to a game-high 24 points to secure the victory.
The Penguins traveled to Ohio University on Dec. 6 to continue their non-conference schedule.
Youngstown defeated the Bobcats, 78-72. It’s the Penguins first win against Ohio University since 1979. To view the box score from the matchup, visit ysusports.com.
YSU rounds out its three game home slate against the University of Western Michigan on Dec. 9. The game will be streaming live on ESPN+ and tipoff is set for 1 p.m.