By Robert Hayes
A week after Garrett Covington hit a buzzer beater shot to defeat the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers, a new hero stepped up to hit a game winning shot.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Donel Cathcart III hit a 3-pointer that gave Youngstown State University the 75-73 victory over the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars. This marks the first time the Penguins have won five straight games since the 1998-1999 season.
“The play was actually for Darius [Quisenberry],” Cathcart said. “He had a couple of baskets at the stretch at the end and we just wanted to get him the ball. When he drove, a couple people collapsed on him, I knew he would find me in the corner and I hit the shot.”
Penguins coach Jerrod Calhoun complimented Quisenberry’s play after the game.
“What a pass, I don’t think people understand most freshman would go in there and try and score, he [Quisenberry] drives the baseline and finds Donel [Cathcart III] exactly where Donel is supposed to be,” Calhoun said. “He’s made two incredible passes, the pass to Covington on the right side, and then now to Cathcart on the left side.”
It was a physical game all around from both teams. IUPUI (14-12; 6-7) held a 11-10 lead over YSU at the 11:32 mark in the first half, but the Penguins would use a 13-2 run to take a commanding 24-12 lead with 8:20 left in the first half.
YSU continued to play well in the first half, as they went into halftime with a 39-30 lead.
Things did get a bit dicey for the Penguins as the Jaguars clawed back to eventually retake the lead at 73-72 with 42 seconds left in the game. There was an usual moment during the second half where Garrett Covington took a hard hit, but continued to play, only to collapse at mid-court a few moments later. He would walk off under his own power.
Freshman Jelani Simmons and Quisenberry both led the Penguins (11-16; 7-7) with 17 points a piece. Michael Akuchie added some attentional firepower from the bench, as his 14 points is a new career high for the sophomore.
“I put in the time and I know what I can do, and Coach [Calhoun] puts me in a position to do what I can do,” Akuchie said. “I just try to make sure whenever I get in, whenever that may be, I just make sure I stay ready.”
Calhoun said he believes the team is benefiting from their newly found momentum.
“Winning is fun,” Calhoun said. “When you win games you’re supposed to get excited, you’re supposed to show some emotion.”
He added that the team benefits from the quick rise in the Horizon League standings.
“We’ve kind of started this little tradition in the locker room we’re we put the standings, and they get to move the standings, and they all go nuts everytime we keep moving up,” Calhoun said.
YSU is currently tied with Oakland for fifth place and is only a half game out of fourth place. It should be noted the top four teams in the Horizon League get to host a home playoff game in the league tournament.
Looking forward, Saturday’s game versus the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames (14-12; 8-5) is going to be key if YSU wants to host a potential playoff game. Tip off versus UIC is set for 6 p.m. at Beeghly Center.