NKU Completes 16-Point Comeback to Down YSU, 79-76
by Sean Mackey
After 2 disappointing losses on the road (and reportedly losing one of their star players for the season), bounced back at home with a win against the visiting Youngstown State Penguins 79-76. This game also marked the return of two former NKU players, Bryson Langdon and Imanuel Zorgvol back to Truist after transferring during the offseason.
The first half was a fast paced disaster for the Norse. Youngstown came out shooting hot and quickly took the lead and refused to look back. Their stifling defense held NKU to just 37% from the field and forced 7 turnovers. It also didn’t help that the Penguins couldn’t seem to miss from the 3 point line who started the game 7-11 from downtown. At one point the lead got to an out- of-hand 16 points. They were led by guard Brandon Rush who scored 11 points and grabbed 5 boards and a steal during the first 20 minutes. NKU standout, Marques Warrick scored 15 of the Norse’s 36 points at end of the half. YSU led 45-36.
However, the second half was a completely different story. After going on a brief 10-4 run before the end of the half, the Norse turned it up to eleven in a large comeback effort that was led by both Marques Warrick and the high flying, Keeyan Itejere. Warrick scored an additional 14 points during the final half. Itejere delivered a flurry of dunks from the field going 8-10. He also grabbed 9 boards and had 3 blocks and was a big presence defensively. After slowly chipping away, the Norse finally took a 61-60 lead late in the game. However, YSU continued to fight back. They traded the lead for several possessions but a final dagger clutch three by Marques Warrick gave NKU the win.
After the game, senior Marques Warrick said “We competed the whole game and it was a tale of 2 halves defensively. We turned it around, fixed our mistakes and it was team effort.” When asked about his lob/dunk game Keeyan Itejere said “the guards are trusting me with lobs and they rewarded me this game. I’ve been trying to go stronger at the basket.” NKU Head Coach, Darrin Horn praised his team “Really proud of our guys. We’re learning how to play without Sam Vinson and we won the way we need to win defensively. During the 1st half, we didn’t defend the 3. Huge game from ‘Ques. If Marques Warrick doesn’t play like a player of the year tonight, we don’t win.”
The Norse next travel up north to Cleveland State this Sunday for a late afternoon showdown with the Vikings (1/7/24, 4:00 p.m., ESPN+).