Men’s basketball punches ticket to Indianapolis


Maggie Willard

Micah Parrish goes in for a layup against the Youngstown State Penguins.

For Head Coach Greg Kampe and the men’s basketball team, facing Youngstown State in the Horizon League tournament is not new.

Tuesday, March 2 marked the third time in the past four years the Penguins and Golden Grizzlies have met in the conference tournament, as Oakland hosted the Penguins for the quarterfinals. 

In 2017, the Penguins beat the No. 1 seed Golden Grizzlies on a last-second layup at Joe Louis Arena. In 2019, Oakland hosted Youngstown State, winning 88-84. 

On another odd-numbered year, 2021, Oakland escaped with a narrow four-point win in overtime, 87-83.

Trey Townsend reads the defense versus the Penguins. The Golden Grizzlies won in overtime, 87-83, and Townsend drew a key charge in overtime.

The typically high-flying Golden Grizzlies offense started off slow, but their defense did not. After Oakland forced four turnovers in a five-minute span, Youngstown had to call a timeout to try and stop the momentum, trailing 16-10. 

Jalen Moore started the game off strong, scoring five points in the first nine minutes and making two of his three shots. Freshman Micah Parrish got the start and forced multiple turnovers in the first half, disrupting the Penguins’ offense. Parrish scored 10 first-half points in his first tournament game.

The Moore show continued as the first half went on. Moore, who was named to the Horizon League All-League First Team, scored 10 points, recorded six assists and grabbed four rebounds in the first half. Moore finished with 20 points and 11 assists in 45 minutes.

However, Garrett Covington of the Penguins was just as hot from 3-point range, hitting three of his own in the first half. Covington finished with a game-high of 30 points — he hit five 3-pointers.

After both offenses picked up the pace, the first half ended with Oakland up 37-36, as the Penguins had cut into what was once a 10-point lead for the Golden Grizzlies.

Rashad Williams, who scored an uncharacteristically-low three points in the first half, came out of the second half gates strong, scoring seven of the Golden Grizzlies first 11 in the second half. The Golden Grizzlies defense also came out strong, allowing just eight points in the first seven minutes.

Rashad Williams celebrates a bucket against Youngstown State. Williams led the Golden Grizzlies in points and scored 19 of his 22 in the second half and overtime. (Photo Courtesy of Jose Juarez)

Youngstown State hung around for most of the second half, but the Golden Grizzlies lead consistently hovered around six to eight points. In a do-or-die situation, both teams were trying to find an edge. 

After the Penguins chipped away at the lead, tying the game at 62 with five minutes remaining, Williams hit another three, taking the lead right back. The back-and-forth pace held as it had all game. 

Williams made the difference down the stretch. With the defense zeroed in on Moore, Williams took advantage time and time again, hitting four threes and scoring 19 points in the second half. He finished with a team-high 22 points on 5-10 3-point shooting.

But, the Penguins fought as they had all game. Covington kept up the pace he established in the first half, and with 1:41 remaining, Youngstown State took a lead for the first time since the first few minutes of the game on a Naz Bohannon layup. 

A Daniel Oladapo steal with 56 seconds remaining and the game tied at 73 gave Oakland a chance to reclaim the lead. Moore’s layup just rimmed out, and the Penguins got the ball with 18.1 seconds remaining.

In a nearly silent O’rena, Youngstown’s Darius Quisenberry heaved a shot from almost half court, which hit the right side of the backboard, resulting in overtime. 

As if 40 minutes weren’t enough, both teams kept the intensity in overtime. The lead traded hands almost with every possession. A layup from Moore with 1:33 remaining gave Oakland the first two-possession lead of overtime, 82-78. 

Trey Townsend drew a key charge on Bohannon with 1:20 remaining, giving Oakland a chance to take a significant lead. Another Moore layup gave Oakland a six point OT advantage. In the end, the game came down to Moore.

With 10 seconds remaining and a ticket to Indianapolis on the line, Jalen Moore hit one of his two free throws to cap the game off, and the Penguins had another deep Quisenberry prayer go unanswered. 

Next up for the men’s basketball team is a semifinal match against the Northern Kentucky Norse Monday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m. in Indianapolis.