Making history

Penguins improve to 8-0 at home

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Jamir Thomas, left, talks to Naz Bohannon as they leave the court along with Garrett Covington following Youngstown State’s win over Detroit on Saturday. Bohannon hit a game-winning jumper during YSU’s final possession with 22.8 seconds left in the game.

YOUNGSTOWN — The last time Youngstown State won its first eight games at home, “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson was the top single on the Billboard Top 40, the average price of a car was $7,574, Idora Park was still welcoming guests and Mahoning Valley residents were still shopping at Strouss in downtown Youngstown.

Naz Bohannon made a jumper on YSU’s final possession to help guide the Penguins to a 69-67 victory over the University of Detroit Mercy on Saturday afternoon at the Beeghly Center. It’s the first time Youngstown State has gone 8-0 at home to start the season since the 1979-1980 campaign, and it’s the first time YSU has accomplished the feat since moving up to the Division I level in the summer of 1981.

After the game, Bohannon talked about the importance of being confident and making history.

“We talk about it every day,” he said. “Coach (Calhoun) talked to us earlier this week and this morning when we came here for film at 8:45 a.m. about making history and being different.

“So 2020 is our year, since we’ve been Division I, nobody has been 8-0 at home. So we got to take our chance and get ourselves in the history books.”

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes The Penguins celebrate in the locker room following Saturday’s victory.

Following a timeout, YSU had the ball with 34.6 seconds left and deadlocked with the Titans at 67. Darius Quisenberry passed the ball out to Donel Cathcart III, who then passed the ball back to Quisenberry at the top of the arc. He passed it back to Cathcart, who saw Bohannon on the right side about a foot inside the 3-point line.

Bohannon took the shot and sank the jumper with 22.8 seconds left in the game and only 2 seconds left on the shot clock.

“In the timeout, coach (Calhoun) drew something up because they’ve been going man to zone, switching it off and on,” Bohannon said. “So he called for a ball screen for DQ.

“And at the end of the timeout, I just asked coach, ‘So if get the rebound if he misses, you want me to get it back out or you want me to score it?’ Coach let me get the ball and score it, so when it came to me I just shot it.”

This all came after Quisenberry hit a game-winning layup against Oakland on Thursday, and Calhoun understands that tight games are one of the hallmarks of the Horizon League.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes YSU's Michael Akuchie, left, grabs an offensive rebound late in the second half of the Penguins' win Saturday.

“It’s what conference play is all about. Everybody kind of knows what everybody runs,” he said. “Historically, this league has had so many close games that have decided league titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

“You look at last year, Oakland and Northern Kentucky at the buzzer. The winning team goes to the championship, it’s just what it is. College basketball, there’s nothing like it, it’s why it’s the greatest sport out there. It’s why March Madness is great.”

Detroit Mercy (3-15, 1-4) had a pair of timeouts remaining but decided against using them on its final possession. The Titans got the ball to Antoine Davis, one of the most prolific scorers in the league, but strong defense by Cathcart forced him to kick the ball out to Marquis Moore with 3.1 seconds left.

Moore had a career-high 15 points in the losing effort, but he missed a wide-open 3-pointer as time expired.

Davis came into this season as the reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Year, and YSU held him to 14 points on 5-20 shooting.

Quisenberry, who had a game-high 16 points, said these close games are helping build the character of this team.

“I think just knowing you can close out a game when it gets close, when adversity hits,” he said. “Being able to take it on the chin and keep playing.

“We stay together as a group and just close games out, and I think that builds confidence through the season knowing that we can win games. Now we have games under our belt that when it comes down to the wire, we know what to do in those situations.”

Garrett Covington and Devin Morgan chipped in with nine points apiece.

Calhoun said he thinks there’s more of a buzz surrounding his team.

“One of our parents was telling me yesterday and said that he was at the mall and people were talking about our team,” he said. “That hasn’t happened here in a couple of years since we’ve been here.

“So it’s nice to see our guys getting a little notoriety, but I think if you give them a chance, you come watch them, you might get hooked because they play really hard. Once we eventually figure out how to score the ball, this team is going to be very, very dangerous because we can play defense really, really well.”

YSU will hit the road and play games at Northern Kentucky and Wright State, two of the historically more dominant teams in the Horizon League.

Bohannon said he thinks the upcoming road trip is going be to be critical.

“Obviously today we nibble on success and do that,” he said. “But, we go into one of the bigger weeks and you always hear Wright State, NKU as the top two in the league.

“To be the best, you have to beat the best, and that’s what our mentality is, so get in here, lock in at practice all week, and go and try and win two games in a row.”

YSU (11-7, 4-1) plays at Northern Kentucky (11-6, 3-2) on Thursday at the BB&T Arena in Highland Heights, Kentucky.


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