And Nagy was right. They brought plenty of juice. In fact, they actually sounded as if they brought their own cheerleading squad with subs at times chanting in unison, “Dee-fense (clap, clap) dee-fense.”
That energy propelled them to a 13-point lead early in the second half and, after the Raiders raced ahead by five, they still had enough left in the tank for a closing surge.
Leading by three with just under one minute to go, the Penguins (7-4, 3-4) held the ball and appeared to get off a close-range floater. It missed and went out of bounds, giving them a dead-ball rebound.
But after a review, YSU, picked to finish second in the league, was called for a shot-clock violation with 24.5 seconds left.
Needing a 3, Tim Finke made a post pass to Loudon Love, and he popped it back to a wide-open Finke, who nailed a tying trey with 13.5 seconds left.
Burly forward Naz Bohannon, who finished with 28 points and eight rebounds, looked as if he’d be forced into a hurried mid-range jumper as the Penguins’ final possession seemed to stall.
But Covington was left free briefly underneath, and Bohannon found him in time for the game-winning points.
“That was my fault more than anyone else’s at the end,” said Nagy, meaning he emphasized helping out on Bohannon. “It was unfortunate. We were so locked in on trying to get Bohannon stopped that we were just staring at the ball. (Covington) cut and was open.
“But I’m proud of how our guys fought in the second half. Hopefully, we’ll carry that over tomorrow.”
Finke had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Raiders (7-3, 5-2), who have lost two in a row. Four others reached double figures: Tanner Holden 17, Grant Basile 16, Trey Calvin 13 and Love 12.
The Raiders trailed by 10 at halftime and by 12 when Bohannon made a pair of free throws at 15:49.
But they bounced back with crisp offense, hitting 7 of 8 shots in one span. Finke made two free throws for a 56-55 lead.
A step-back 3 by Calvin and a put-back from Finke gave the Raiders a 63-58 edge with 5:28 to go, capping a 25-8 run.
“We just played hard,” Nagy said of the comeback. “We started to get some stops finally. That’s how you can play better offensively. We certainly weren’t very good (before that). We took way too many 3′s, way too many jump shots.
“We didn’t shoot one free throw in the first half and six for the game (making only three). That’s unusual for us.”
Bohannon, a preseason second-team pick, tied it at 65 on a free throw. He then made a drive and drew a foul on Basile, completing a three-point play for a 68-65 edge.
The Raiders regained the lead at 69-68 lead on a Love bucket with two minutes to go, but they didn’t score again until Finke’s late 3.
Nagy was frustrated by the first-half malaise, pointing out his team has had “uninspired” play in four of the last five games.
The Raiders had 10 straight misses at one point and shot 12 of 35 (34.3%), while the Penguins made 17 of 33 attempts (51.5%).
“I thought in the first half, they just physically beat us up and whipped us,” Nagy said. “They were very focused, and we were very splintered and all over the place. That was the difference in the game.
“In the second half, we played great. I was proud of the kids — how hard we played and how physical we were. That’s how we’re supposed to play.”
Youngstown State at Wright State, 3 p.m., ESPN3, 106.5