YSU sets records while routing Franciscan

YSU sets records while routing Franciscan

By Brian Dzenis



It’s nice to win basketball games. It’s nice to break school records. The Youngstown State men’s basketball team broke three Tuesday night in its home opener, so all is good, yes?

If head coach Jerrod Calhoun has his way, games like the Penguins’ 134-46 romp against Division III Franciscan are hopefully going away.

“I don’t want to play D-II’s and D-III’s. It’s not in my DNA,” Calhoun said. “I don’t enjoy it, to be honest with you, and it’s a hard game to coach. Part of you wants to be really happy for your players because they’re getting ready to break a school record, but your heart hurts for the other kids on the bench.”

Franciscan University is a small Catholic school of about 2,700 students in Steubenville. Its basketball team is in its second-year under coach Joe Wallace after winning four games the previous year.

Calhoun described the scheduling for his first season as “full of glitches.” One such glitch was losing IUPUI as a regular-season, non-conference opponent because of its sudden addition to the Horizon League.

The Penguins will play IUPUI twice as a league opponent, but YSU (1-1) found itself scrambling for an opponent at any level, which led to Tuesday’s game.

The Penguins will play one more Division III team — Westminster — this season on Nov. 21. Calhoun said there will be one D-III game on the schedule next year as he works to get better competition in Youngstown. His mentor, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, is doing him a solid in that department.

“We’re ecstatic, we just got the contract today. We’re going to play West Virgina here in 2019 at the Covelli Centre,” Calhoun said. “It’s the biggest college basketball game in Youngstown involving the Penguins. I’m really happy that coach Huggins agreed to do that.”

It’s a three-year agreement, with the Penguins playing in Morgantown next season.

Tuesday’s win marked five events: Calhoun’s first win with the Penguins, three broken school records and one tied record. The Penguins set new marks for points in a game (134), margin of victory (88 points) and steals in a game (37). Freshman Garrett Covington tied the individual record for steals with seven.

Freshman forward Michael Akuchie said the gameplan was to go as hard as they could and get 50 turnovers, regardless of the score. The team got 49.

“We were just trying to bounce back. We’re not trying to hold our heads and feel sorry for ourselves,” Akuchie said. “We were greedy. We were tough. We were nasty, but we were playing hard.”

Akuchie led the Penguins with 28 points. Covington and Tyree Robinson each had 16. Braun Hartfield added 14 points and Jaylen Benton and Devin Haygood each put up 10.

Juwan Perkins had 10 points for Franciscan (0-1).

South Range graduate Dan Ritter — a walk-on — entered the game in the closing minutes. He had two rebounds, two steals, a block, an assist and a block.


The team announced that a third player recently signed his National Letter of Intent. Columbus Beechcroft forward Jelani Simmons signed with the Penguins and will join the team next year. During his junior season, the 6-foot-5 Simmons averaged 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

On Monday, YSU announced the signings of Atiba Taylor and Darius Quisenberry.

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