By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team hosted Oakland University on Jan. 27. The game was nationally-broadcasted on ESPN2 in front of a full crowd at the Beeghly Center.
It has been 13 years since the team hosted a game on ESPN, the last time being 2010.
The Penguins came out on top with a final score of 77-73. The team picked up its eighth conference win of the season. The men had four starters score in double-figures. The team shot 52.8% from the field.
Senior Dwayne Cohill led the way with 25 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Cohill scored 23 points in the second half for the Penguins. Senior Brandon Rush scored 12 points and had two rebounds. Graduate student Adrian Nelson had 11 points and led the team in rebounds with nine.
In the first half, there were eight lead changes. Youngstown State eventually led by eight points late in the half. The Golden Grizzlies would cut the lead down, just before half. The Penguins went into halftime up 38-37.
In the second half, the Penguins jumped back out to an early eight point lead, led by Cohill who scored seven points in just three minutes. The Grizzlies would climb back and tie the game with under seven minutes to play.
The ‘Guins would then go on a 11-2 run with a little over two minutes to go. Oakland would try to make a comeback, pulling within three and only 40 seconds to go. The Penguins would go on to secure the four point victory on ESPN2 and improve to 16-6 overall.
Head coach Jerrod Calhoun spoke highly about his team. He also sent a message to the fans after the big win, and how they motivated the team.
“This team is a great team, this team is an unselfish team, this team knows how to play. I think we are really dangerous and I would just say if you like what you saw, come back,” Calhoun said. “These kids feed off the energy and if you want to build a basketball power you want to build a team that can win a league title, you need fan support, that’s as good as an environment that you’ll see in the country.”
The Penguins hosted The University of Detroit Mercy on Jan. 29. The men picked up their second win in a row with a score of 73-63, in front of another packed crowd. The team improved to 17-6 overall and captured its 9th conference win.
Three players for the Penguins scored in double figures. Cohill led the way, scoring 20 points with seven rebounds and five assists.
Nelson recorded his ninth double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also shot a career-high 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Senior Bryce McBride scored 14 points, five assists and two steals. Junior Myles Hunter came off the bench and scored six points, three assists and two rebounds.
The Penguins shot the ball well, as they shot 45% from the field and an impressive 55% from three-point range. The ‘Guins also played well defensively — as a team it had seven steals and four blocked shots.
Youngstown State held the NCAA leading scorer Antoine Davis to just 15 points. Davis also averages the most three-pointers made at 4.6 per game. The ‘Guins shut him down to just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.
The Penguins got off to a slow start in the first half. They had the lead for just 14 seconds in the first half. The Titans led by halftime, 33-25.
Youngstown State came out in the second half with a vengeance, scoring 48 points. The team took the lead with under 12 minutes to play left. The men went on an 18-3 run for the next eight minutes. The Penguins held on to the lead for the rest of the game and won by 10.
Nelson spoke after the game about the team’s second half defensive performance and what it needs to focus on with just eight games remaining.
“We knew we had to pick it up because we came out a little lackadaisical in the first half. Second half, that press really got us going and we knew what we had to do to win that game,” Nelson said.
The men will continue a two-game home stand tonight, Feb. 2 hosting the Raiders. Then on Feb. 4 hosting Northern Kentucky University. Both games are set for 7 p.m., and can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.