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Men’s game tonight set for ESPN2

The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will try to stay in the mix in a balanced Horizon League on a grand stage — and it won’t be easy.

The Penguins (6-4, 2-4) go on the road to face preseason HL favorite Wright State (7-2, 5-1) at 7 p.m. tonight at the E.J. Nutter Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun of the Raiders, who tied for the league championship in 2019 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament. “Our program has great respect for what they’ve been able to do in the league for a very long time. They’ve got really good players, really good coach, really good culture and a winning program. So we’ll have to play really good basketball on both sides of the ball.”

Wright State is led by the conference’s returning player of the year, Loudon Love.

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound center averaged 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last year. His numbers are slightly better this year, averaging a double-double with 15.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He pairs with surging 6-6 sophomore guard Holden Tanner, who leads WSU with 16.3 points per game and also averages 7.8 rebounds. Three other players are scoring in double figures as well.

The Raiders had their seven-game winning streak snapped in an 81-71 loss to Oakland last Saturday.

“They’re a team that’s very, very balanced,” Calhoun said. “They’re very big. They do a great job rebounding — they’re plus 11 on the glass in league play — (and they’re) one of the top defensive teams.”

YSU is coming off a resounding 109-56 victory over Carlow (NAIA).

The Penguins’ last league game was a 79-69 loss to Green Bay on Jan. 2. YSU won the first game against Green Bay, 84.77. The Penguins’ Naz Bohannon, a 6-6, 228-pound senior, is second in the league in scoring at 18 points per game and fifth in rebounding at 8.4 per game. Junior Darius Quisenberry is averaging 13.7 points per game and has 20 assists in six games. Shemar Rathan-Mayes and Garrett Covington also are scoring in double figures for YSU.

The Penguin women are trying to notch their first victory of the season in a home game versus Oakland. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.

After having its first eight games canceled due to the pandemic, YSU lost its opener against Wright State and then lost to the Raiders the following day. The Penguins welcomed back fifth-year senior Mary Dunn, who missed the past 13-plus months because of injuries. She was YSU’s top scorer and rebounder in the season opener with 15 points and eight boards.

Kahlaijah Dean leads the Golden Grizzlies (3-6, 3-3), as she’s averaging 16.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. Dean is a 5-6 junior guard. The guard-oriented group also has Alona Blackwell, a 5-10 sophomore guard who has a team-high 21 3-pointers. She’s averaging 11.6 points per game.

After a 3-2 start, the Golden Grizzlies have lost four straight.

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