Covington’s buzzer beater lift YSU over Oakland
Covington’s block, tip-in basket lift YSU
By Brian DZENIS
Garrett Covington bailed out Youngstown State at both ends of the floor Wednesday night.
First Covington blocked a would-be game-winning shot from one of the nation’s top scorers in Oakland’s Kendrick Nunn. Then on the very next possession, he scored the game-winning basket in a set that wasn’t meant for him to have the ball.
Covington rebounded Braun Hartfield’s missed jumper and tipped the ball back toward the basket just before the buzzer. As the ball spun on the rim, he took off down the court with the entire men’s basketball team and his father, John, in pursuit. The shot was good for a 75-73 win against the Golden Grizzlies.
“Everything was whirlwind. I saw my dad jumping and screaming. It was great,” Covington said. “When I saw it roll, I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ I just started running back.”
Covington closed out a masterful performance at both ends of the floor. The freshman guard’s primary task was guarding Nunn — the nation’s second-leading scorer with 26.1 points per game heading. Nunn lit up the Penguins for 26 points in their first meeting on Jan. 10, a 95-82 loss, but this time he was held to 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting. He had six points in the second half.
“My whole thing coming into this game was to try not to let him get the ball. [I did] whatever I had to do to deny him the ball because he is the second-leading scorer in the country,” Covington said. “He does the same thing where he kind of sets up and gets off that screen and I just ran to that ball.”
Covington finished with 18 points.
“He does everything you ask him. He is hopefully what my two young daughters marry,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “It’s just ironic that the guy who played the best defense the entire game makes the winning basket. Sometimes the basketball gods up there look down on you and they reward hard work and I’m glad they did.”
YSU (8-20, 6-9 in the Horizon League) has won back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 6 and denied Oakland coach Greg Kampe his 600th career victory.
YSU trailed 71-64 with 2:39 to play before going on an 11-2 run to close out the game. Cam Morse hit two free throws before Oakland’s Isaiah Brock and Covington traded two-point baskets. YSU coaxed an airball out of the Grizzlies on their next possession and Covington responded with a 3 to make it 73-71 Oakland with 1:33 to play.
After a YSU steal, Covington missed a 3, but Nunn got none on his next shot. Morse came down with the rebound and lobbed a long pass to Hartfield who tied the game at 73, setting up the Covington sequence.
Morse led the Penguins 23 points. He drew two fouls from the Grizzlies as he was shooting 3-pointers. He made five of six free throws on both of those fouls.
Jalen Hayes led Oakland (16-11, 8-6) with 19 points. Isaiah Brock had a double-double of 14 points and 15 rebounds and Nick Daniels had 13 points.
YSU hosts Detroit Mercy Friday night.