By Robert Hayes
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team played their final game in the regular season last night, and fell to the Cleveland State University Vikings 89-80.
It was Senior Night for Noe Anabir, and YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun was disappointed his team was on the losing end of the contest.
“Disappointed for Noe (Anabir), that we couldn’t coach better and win that game for him,” Calhoun said.
Anabir has been with the Penguins (12-19, 8-10) for the last two seasons and is a major part of their team defensively. On Saturday he was a key part of the team’s offense as he scored a career high 16 points.
Before the game the YSU Pep Band played the Swiss National Anthem as a way to honor Anabir, who’s from Geneva, Switzerland.
He was flattered by the gesture.
“It was the biggest surprise today,” Anabir said. “I was really happy about that, and I thank the band for just showing me love and every fan that came in here too. Also, they had the flag on the scoreboard, it was real special for me.”
The Penguins did control a 53-43 at the 12:28 mark in the second half, but a 14-6 by the Vikings (10-21, 5-13) cut the lead down to 2 points at the 7:50 mark with a score of 59-57.
The remainder of the game was a back and forth contest, as Cleveland State would retake the lead with a dunk by Jaalam Hill with 1:43 left.
Layups on back to back YSU possessions by Anabir would tie the game up at 71-71 with 47 seconds left. The Penguins did have an opportunity to score on the final possession of regulation, but Devin Morgan missed a potential game winning 3-pointer.
Fatigue began to set in, as the Penguins would be outscored 18-9 in the overtime period, and would be on the losing end of a hard fought game.
Calhoun believes Cleveland State wanted it more.
“You got to give them credit, they never stopped playing,” Calhoun said. “They’re not going to the postseason but that didn’t matter to them.”
This is the fifth straight time that the Penguins have fell to the Vikings. Their last victory over Cleveland State was on March 3, 2017.
It should be noted that Garrett Covington didn’t play tonight due to an illness.
Darius Quisenberry led the Penguins with 32 points and broke the freshman single season 3-point record which was previously held by Jordan Andrews, who made 50 in the 2015-2016 season.
Quisenberry also became the first Freshman to score 400 points since 1978-1979, and is the first Freshman to have multiple 30+ point games since Tim Jackson in 1987-1988.
YSU now finishes the regular season in sixth place in the Horizon League and will hit the road to face the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Wednesday with tipoff set for 7 p.m. YSU has spilt the season series with Oakland at 1-1.
Anabir thinks the team will be ready.
“We’re lucky that our season is not over, so next week we go into Oakland with a good mindset and win the game,” he said.
It won’t be easy, but Calhoun will have his team prepared.
“Whoever wins this Horizon League tournament is going to mentally be the toughest team,” Calhoun said. “Basketball is a sport like no other, it’s a long season for everybody involved and I think the mentally tough teams this time of the year win.”