YSU senior leads rally

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State senior Naz Bohannon is fouled while tossing up a layup during the first half. He made the shot and recorded a career-high 32 points on 12-15 shooting in the Penguins 84-77 win over the Phoenix.

YOUNGSTOWN — After spending the last two weekends at Northern Kentucky and Cleveland State, the Youngstown State men’s basketball program was more than happy to do some home cooking to ring in the New Year.

Even if home looks and feels different this time around. Unlike its non-conference contests, fans weren’t permitted due to Horizon League rules.

YSU faced a Green Bay team that was desperate to find its first win of the season after beginning 0-8. YSU looked to rebound after two losses against Cleveland State last weekend at the Wolstein Center.

The Phoenix certainly didn’t play like a team that’s suffered eight consecutive losses and actually jumped on YSU early to take an early 14-point lead over the Penguins, but a career night out of senior Naz Bohannon helped YSU slide past Green Bay, 84-77.

Coach Jerrod Calhoun had a simple message for his team after being down 40-39 at halftime.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State freshman Myles Hunter, right, shoots and makes a 3-pointer during the second half against Green Bay. YSU won the game, 84-77.

“Just play defense, that’s been my MO all week, play defense you got a chance,” he said. “You don’t play defense, you don’t have a shot, so I thought in the second half we clamped down. They (Green Bay) came out on fire, made every 3. We’ve got to figure out at the start of games. We got to be a little more assertive, a little more attentive, especially in our building, inside Beeghly. We’ve been so good over the last year and a half.”

The Penguins are now 3-0 at home on the season and own a 20-4 record within Beeghly dating back to Feb. 7, 2019.

YSU trailed most of the first half, but kept clawing back thanks to some outstanding work in the paint by Bohannon, who found ways to draw fouls and ended up making 8-of-14 shots at the charity stripe. He finished with a career-high 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting and 12 rebounds.

Fellow senior Garrett Covington helped YSU get back into the game with nine in the first half, alongside Naz’s 15. With 2:05 left in the half, freshman Shemar Rathan-Mayes nailed a 3 to give the Penguins their first lead at 36-35.

With 10 different Penguins seeing the floor in the first half and junior Darius Quisenberry nursing an ankle injury on the floor, YSU looked for a second-half spark and found one in the form of freshman Myles Hunter.

The 6-foot-5 guard took advantage of an increased amount of minutes, and his effort was noted by Calhoun.

“He’s a young man that’s been working really hard the last three or four days, (and) we’re just going to reward guys that play defense,” he said. “Anybody that plays defense is going to get a shot.

“Still not happy with the defense tonight, so we got to be better (today). They’ll make adjustments, we got to make some adjustments. It’s a quick turnaround.”

Bohannon and Covington combined to shoot a perfect 9 of 9 from the line in the last 2 minutes of the game to help guide YSU to the victory.

For Calhoun and his team, picking up the front end of the two game series is huge with the next two weekends being spent on the road.

“This season is going to be over before you know it,” he said. “I broke it down to the kids, that after this week we’re down really to seven weeks of basketball.

“The seniors, as guys that have been around college basketball, you got to rely on those guys to really send the message home that the sense of urgency has to pick up. We have to play winning basketball, and I thought there was some stretches tonight where we did that. Still got to get better and more consistent with our play, both offensively and defensively.”

Covington helped pace YSU with 13, along with Quisenberry’s 12 and Rathan-Mayes’s 11. Junior Geoff Hamperian and Hunter round out the rest of the Penguins scoring with eight points a piece. The team shot the ball at a 50.9 percent clip, with 38 of their 84 coming in the paint. They outscored the Phoenix (0-9, 0-5) 45-37 in the second half.

YSU (5-3, 2-3) doesn’t have much time to celebrate its win as the Penguins be back in action today at 4 p.m. against Green Bay following the women’s game against Wright State.


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