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Milestones & a win

Bohannon, Covington reach marks; men end skid

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes -- YSU redshirt freshman Daniel Ogoro drives and scores while being fouled during the first half against UIC. He tallied a career-high 19 points in the Penguins 85-77 win over the Flames.

YOUNGSTOWN — With 17:58 left in the second half on Saturday night at the Beeghly Center, Teyvion Kirk of Illinois-Chicago missed a layup and Youngstown State senior Naz Bohannon snagged the rebound under the basket.

Bohannon tossed the ball down the court to fellow senior Garrett Covington, who went around a UIC defender and layed the ball in off the glass.

It’s unusual to see two career milestones reached in the same game, but on the same play it is unheard of. But the rebound by Bohannon and the basket by Covington both were significant in the Penguins’ much-needed 85-77 victory over the Flames.

The rebound gave Bohannon 900 in his YSU career, which broke the previous YSU Division I record of 899 held by Penguins Hall of Famer Tim Jackson.

Covington’s score made him the 40th player to join the 1,000-point club at YSU. He joins teammates Darius Quisenberry and Bohannon in reaching that milestone this season. That also happened at YSU in the 2012-13 campaign with Kendrick Perry, Damian Eargle and Blake Allen.

Covington and Bohannon finding themselves in the record books as seniors is a testament to the development of coach Jerrod Calhoun’s program, especially since they were signed late when he took over the YSU program.

“When you first get to a job, you’re really, really scrambling to find players.” Calhoun said “Naz, I knew about, Naz used to come to camps when he was little at Fairmont State, and we know a lot of the same people. We got very, very lucky, coach (Jason) Slay and coach (Paul) Molinari at that time did a great job recruiting Garrett. To see Garrett go over 1000, it’s tremendous, it means a lot of hard work, it means that he’s gotten better each and every year.

“And then with Naz, for a kid to grab 900 rebounds, it’s crazy. It’s crazy to think that this guy can get that many rebounds, I’ve said all along that pound-for- pound he’s the best rebounder in the country.”

The Penguins’ victory snapped a four-game losing streak.

YSU held a 44-35 lead at halftime after only trailing in the opening minutes to the Flames. They carried a double-digit lead once senior Micahel Akuchie knocked down a 3-pointer at the 18:16 mark to make it 51-39, and led by as many as 18 points with 12:28 left in the game.

UIC (8-5, 5-3) cut the lead to four points at 79-75 with 34 seconds left following a 3 by Maurice Commander. Following a poor night on the line Friday in a buzzer-beater loss, redshirt freshman Daniel Ogoro, freshman Shemar Rathan-Mayes, and Akuchie all made clutch free throws down the stretch to thwart any Flames comeback.

Bohannon led all scorers with 23, his seventh 20-plus point game of the season, and Ogoro posted a career-high 19 points. Akuchie tallied 13 points with nine rebounds, and Covington had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

For Calhoun and his team, Saturday evening’s win was a good way to bounce back, but it’s crunch time now for a YSU team that has plenty of ground to make up in the league standings.

They understand the disappointment, but it’s an “Us vs the World” mindset for the Penguins.

“We’ve got four or five weeks, we can be the most dangerous in the league come tournament time,” Calhoun said “So, we’ve got six more games at home, so there’s a lot of basketball to be played and practices, we just needed to get the taste out of last night.

“But I told them, I was really honest, it wasn’t a great weekend for us, it wasn’t. You can’t spilt anymore, we need to win two ballgames. We put ourselves in a really, really, big hole, we’ve got to dig the way out. Splitting is not digging your way out, so hopefully this really gives us great momentum, gives us belief, and I think during these crazy times, our kids needed some success, so I’m really happy for them.”

YSU (8-8, 4-8) will host Detroit Mercy (4-8, 3-5) this weekend, with their first contest being Friday evening at 5 p.m.

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