By Christina Sainovich
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team closed out its home stretch in the Beeghly Center on Feb. 20 and 22.
YSU won an electrifying game against the No. 1 team in the conference, Wright State University, by a final score of 88-70. Sophomore Darius Quisenberry dropped a career-high 41 points. The point guard went 7-11 from behind the arc.
Junior Naz Bohannon also had a dominating performance, with his seventh double-double of the season. The forward scored 16 points, totaled 14 boards and had a team-high four assists.
The YSU football team made an appearance at the game to form a student section behind the Penguins’ second-half basket.
Quisenberry said the energy in the building motivated the team.
“They made a big difference, being loud and rowdy and getting the crowd into it,” Quisenberry said. “I think they made a huge difference in helping us get that win over Wright State.”
The team had all the momentum heading into Saturday’s match against Northern Kentucky University on senior day. The Norse proved to be just too much for the Penguins.
The Penguins honored two seniors before the game: Donel Cathcart III and Devin Morgan. Both seniors were in the starting lineup against the No. 2 team in the conference.
YSU fell 61-59 after missing a game-tying shot as the clock wound down.
Cathcart led the team in scoring with 14 points, 12 of which came from 3-point range. Morgan added 8 points in the losing effort.
This weekend, YSU will take its final road trip of the regular season. The Penguins will face off against the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay on Thursday and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee on Saturday.
YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said Green Bay is the main focus because that is the next game.
“We’re just concentrating on Green Bay and taking it one game at a time. Obviously the first time we played them, an overtime game, it was a great game,” Calhoun said.
The team feels the pressure as the regular season is ending.
If the Penguins win their next two games, they will be the third seed in the Horizon League. They could play as many as two home games to start the conference tournament.
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team also ended its home regular season, splitting last weekend’s games with the University of Detroit Mercy and Oakland University.
On Friday, YSU pulled away late in the fourth quarter to reign victorious over the Titans 72-66. Juniors Chelsea Olson and Ny’Dajah Jackson both scored in double digits with 13 points each.
Jackson caught fire in the fourth quarter and was a huge part of the Penguins’ run, scoring 7 straight points. Freshman Jen Wendler grabbed 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
A spot of hope for YSU was the return of redshirt junior Emma VanZanten. The forward played 10 minutes, added 6 points and grabbed one board in her comeback performance.
On Sunday, the team couldn’t keep up with Oakland, as it fell 86-73. Olson shined once again, leading the Penguins with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
VanZanten showed strides of improvement in the loss to the Golden Grizzlies. She played a total of 18 minutes, went 3-8 from the field and added three rebounds.
Penguins coach John Barnes said the team is very positive coming off the weekend and preparing for upcoming games.
“We’ve won two of the last three with a very limited team,” Barnes said. “We’re excited to bring a lot of our Wisconsin kids back home to play in their home state, and we’ve had a lot of energy in practice.”
YSU will look to close out its regular season this week with a road trip to Wisconsin. On Thursday, it will take on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Barnes said the team is taking it one game at a time as far as preparing for games.
“We’re just focused on Milwaukee right now,” he said. “They’re a very good team. I think they’ve won six of eight. … So they’re playing well.”
On Saturday, the Penguins will visit the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for their final game of the regular season.
Barnes said this is a good opportunity for his young team to gain experience.
“We’re just trying to have a good experience here in the last weekend. We’ve got a lot of young players playing, and this experience is going to be good for them,” he said.
The team is fighting for a seventh-place finish in the Horizon League but will eventually play road games in the first round of the conference tournament.