Men’s basketball conquers Wisconsin

DJ Burns celebrates after a home win over Milwaukee. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Marissa Masano / The Jambar

The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team traveled to Cleveland State University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for the team’s final regular season road games.

The Penguins fell to Cleveland State, 81-73, at the Wolstein Center on Feb. 17. Fifth-year senior Ziggy Reid led in scoring with 19 points, and fifth-year senior DJ Burns tallied his 10th straight double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. 

Fifth-year Ziggy Reid throws down a dunk against Milwaukee.
Fifth-year Ziggy Reid smiles after a win against Milwaukee. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Junior EJ Farmer and fifth-year senior Brett Thompson scored 12 points each, while fifth-year senior Brandon Rush added 10. 

The Vikings had 27 points off 18 turnovers and regained the lead with nine minutes left in the second half.

The Penguins traveled to Wisconsin on Feb. 23 as they defeated the Panthers in overtime, 84-80. The win marks the first time in its Division I history the team has won 20 games in consecutive seasons.

Reid and Burns led the team with 16 points. Additionally, Burns posted his 19th double-double of the season. Freshman Gabe Dynes recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. 

YSU and Milwaukee went through six lead changes down the stretch, but a Milwaukee layup with 14 seconds remaining tied the score to 67-67, forcing overtime. 

The Penguins led throughout overtime, with the largest lead at seven points. Burns sealed the win with two free throws.

Youngstown State stayed in Wisconsin to defeat the Green Bay Phoenix on Feb. 25 by a final score of 71-59. 

For head coach Jerrod Calhoun, Youngstown’s game plan was strategically better during the game against the Phoenix.

“I really wanted to speed that game up. We didn’t score that many points, but I think we kind of took them out of rhythm, and that was why we put a lot of pressure on those guys,” Calhoun said. 

Reid and Thompson led the Penguins with 16 points, and Burns scored his 12th straight double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Burns is currently third with Purdue University senior Zach Edey in double-doubles with 21.

In the first half, the Penguins grasped their first lead at the 10-minute mark and held it to take a seven-point advantage into halftime.

The Phoenix opened up scoring in the second half, but the Penguins responded over the next 10 minutes to extend their lead to 12. 

In the final four minutes, Thompson went on his own scoring run, tallying eight straight points and pushing the Penguins’ lead to 14.  

A basket by fifth-year senior Bryson Langdon gave the Penguins their largest lead of 17 to close out the Phoenix and collect their 13th conference win.

After the games, Dynes was named the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Freshman Of The Week. The center got his first career start against the Panthers and was named to the starting lineup once again against the Phoenix. 

Youngstown State will return home Feb. 28 to close out its regular season against the University of Detroit Mercy. 

Rush said the game is important for the team, as YSU wants to avoid falling to a team that is 1-17 in conference play.

“Honestly, people might not think so, but this is one of the most important games of the year just because of the fact you’re playing a team that has nothing to lose. That’s the most dangerous team to play,” Rush said. 

The Penguins will start preparing for the Horizon League Basketball Championships. The first round is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff on March 5. The game can be watched on ESPN+.

A win against Detroit Mercy would solidify Youngstown State as the number two seed and grant the team an immediate bid into the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals are scheduled for March 7 and are hosted by the highest seed.