WATCH: ‘This was huge for us’ Youngstown State snaps skid against Cleveland State, move to third in conference standings


Jelani Simmons had a career-high 23 points for the Penguins in their win over Cleveland State

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Jelani Simmons scored 14 of his career-high 23 points in the second half, and the Youngstown State men’s basketball team beat Cleveland State 67-55 on Saturday evening at Beeghly Center.

Simmons hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 19-3 Penguins run in the second half that turned a six-point deficit into an insurmountable 10-point lead.

Simmons’ 23 points came on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, which included a 4-for-8 effort from beyond the arc, and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Darius Quisenberry scored eight of his 16 points in the final three minutes to help close off the Vikings, and Michael Akuchie scored eight of his 12 points during the big second-half run.

Algevon Eichelberger scored 21 points to lead Cleveland State.

Youngstown State improves to 14-11 overall and 7-5 in Horizon League play, while Cleveland State dropped to 9-16 and 5-7.

The margin was within two points for the first six minutes of the game until a Quisenberry basket gave the Penguins a 9-5 lead at the 13:32 mark. Cleveland State led by three on three occasions before another Quisenberry bucket capped a 6-2 burst that put YSU up 22-21 with 6:09 left. The Vikings scored the next six points as part of an 11-4 run to end the half as it built a 32-26 lead.

Leading by six at halftime, the Vikings also led 34- 28 at the 18:41 mark of the second half when the Penguins made their charge.

YSU went on a 19-3 run and took a 47-37 lead when Akuchie hit a 3 with 10 minutes left. Akuchie started the run with a 3-pointer at the 18:22 mark, and he had a big dunk that put YSU ahead 38-34 that forced a Vikings timeout. Jelani Simmons then hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 44-36 with 12:09 remaining, and Akuchie’s triple created the first double-digit margin of the game at 47-37.

Cleveland State started chipping away and got as close as a point at 54-53 on a reverse layup by Eichelberger with just over three minutes remaining. Quisenberry scored on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 58-53 at the 1:47 mark, and Simmons’ fourth 3-pointer put the Penguins ahead 61-55 with 57.2 seconds remaining. Youngstown State went on to score the final nine points of the game as Quisenberry and Simmons combined to go 6-for-6 from the free-throw line after the 3-pointer.

Cleveland State outshot the Penguins 44.9 percent to 42.9 percent, but YSU made two more field goals, five more 3-pointers and three more free throws. Youngstown State also held a 41-24 rebounding edge.

Youngstown State will play their first road game since Jan. 18 when they visit Detroit Mercy on Thursday at 7 p.m.


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