Tables are turned
Penguin men’s team stopped by struggling Phoenix
YOUNGSTOWN — There were back-to-back career days at the Beeghly Center on the campus of Youngstown State University.
Friday evening, YSU senior Naz Bohannon willed the Penguins to a win with a personal high of 32 points over the winless Green Bay Phoenix.
Saturday evening in a fanless arena, the Penguins found themselves on the flip side of the coin after Green Bay senior PJ Pipes posted a new-high of 30 to guide the Phoenix and first year coach Will Ryan to a 79-69 win over a YSU team that has now dropped three out of its last four contests.
“You got to tip your hat off to Green Bay, I thought they did a tremendous job of outworking us,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said following the loss. “Our program is a program that’s kinda based on hard work, I thought they got us on the better half of that. I thought they (Green Bay) deserved to win, they made winning plays down the stretch.
“When you get outworked, the reality of it is, you’re kind of playing with fire, so we’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve been saying it for weeks and weeks, we’re not very good defensively, we got a long, long way to go.”
Freshman Shemar Rathan-Mayes got the scoring going to give the Penguins an early 3-0 lead, but that’s the biggest lead YSU would have in the first half, in a tightly contested first half, where neither team was able to hold the advantage for long.
Green Bay led 20-15 following an Amari Davis jumper with less than ten minutes to go before halftime, but Rathan-Mayes and senior Naz Bohannon strung together back-to-back scores to knot the game at 20 apiece. Bohannon would then score on the final possession of the half to give YSU a 33-32 lead going into the locker room, a day after the Phoenix led 40-39 at the intermission.
The second half was more of the same with teams exchanging blows, as Green Bay led by four at 55-51 at the 9:51 mark, but Bohannon would help give his team moments later with a pair of buckets to make it 59-56 in favor of the host Penguins.
With YSU leading 65-63, Pipes nailed a 3-pointer to give Green Bay a one-point lead, and the Penguins never led again, as the Phoenix (1-9, 1-5) outscored YSU 16-6 over the final three-and-a-half minutes to secure the victory.
Green Bay’s 79 points are the second most they’ve scored all season, only behind a 91-point performance in an overtime loss versus Eastern Illinois. Their 77-point outing Friday evening against the Penguins ties the third most they’ve scored all season.
YSU did shoot 50.9 percent from the field, hitting 27-of-53 attempts, but went 10-19 from the free throw line for 52.6 percent against Green Bay’s 22-of-28 performance from the charity stripe. The Penguins given up 77 points or more in four out of their last five contests.
“There’s really nothing to talk about with this team until we learn, we have to be a good defensive team, you’ll continue to lose,” Calhoun said. “Defense has to be important to you, you can’t give up 79 points and expect to beat anybody.
“So, it’s real simple, we’ve got to get and figure out how we can become a good defensive team together, because it’s not one guy, this is a team sport, we’re all in this thing together, so we have to figure that part out, and then I think that would lead to getting better offensively.”
Bohannon recorded 23 points, which is the fourth time this season he’s tallied 20 or more, along with seven rebounds. Junior Darius Quisenberry followed behind with 14 points and seven assists. Freshman Cheick Traore and Rathan-Mayes were both 3-3 from the field for six and eight points respectively.
Youngstown State (5-4, 2-4) will have film study and physical day off this afternoon as they prepare to take the trip out to Wright State (7-2, 5-1) this weekend for a back-to-back against the Raiders on Friday and Saturday.