A Great Way to Start: YSU wins First of Four Home Games

Alison Smolinski (2) shots a 3-pointer over Hannah Clark (21) in the win against Northern Kentucky.

By Marc Weems

With the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team (9-17, 5-10 Horizon League) will look to snap it’s four-game losing streak against Northern Kentucky University (8-18, 4-10 HL). NKU came into this game losing four out of its last five games.

YSU defeated NKU to snap that four-game losing streak with a 77-73 overtime victory.

“It was huge,” guard Alison Smolinski said about this win. “That road trip we had was really tough. This game gives us a lot of confidence.”

Early on in the first quarter, both NKU and YSU traded made shots. Once NKU took the lead at 8-7, the Norse went on a 7-2 run to stretch the lead to 15-9 with 1:53 left. NKU led YSU 15-13 at the end of the first quarter. Smolinski and center Mary Dunn both had four points for YSU.

“We just wanted to get that win especially at home,” Smolinski said. “I watched the game at home when we played them [NKU] on the road again because of the concussion. It was really weird watching the game at home.”

Alison Smolinski (2) shots a 3-pointer over Hannah Clark (21) in the win against Northern Kentucky.
Photo By Marc Weems/ The Jambar.       Alison Smolinski (2) shoots a 3-pointer over Hannah Clark (21) in the win against Northern Kentucky.

Smolinski said that the most important thing was winning this game.

In the second quarter, NKU and YSU traded buckets again to put the score at 26-25 in favor of YSU with 3:44 left in the first half. That lead was part of a 7-0 run by YSU that was capped by a Melinda Trimmer three-point play.

YSU led 31-25 at the end of the second quarter. Smolinski led all scorers with 10 points and Dunn had nine points as well.

“She’s playing off the charts,” YSU head coach John Barnes said about Smolinski. “She’s been putting us on our shoulders and carrying us to the win. I thought Mary [Dunn], who had 18 points and eight rebounds, played much better. She was huge.”

Smolinski got the scoring started the second half with a corner three to give YSU a 34-25 lead. But NKU wasn’t going down without a fight as they stormed back to within three points with 5:22 left in the third quarter. After NKU got to within 40-37, Smolinski caught fire.

Smolinski hit two threes to put YSU up 48-37. YSU held a 48-39 lead at the end of the fourth quarter. Smolinski led all scorers with 21 points. Dunn also had 15 points to go with six rebounds. NKU guard Taryn Taugher had nine points.

YSU kept NKU at a distance but Rebecca Lyttle came alive in the quarter as she increased her scoring total to 14 points. The Penguins shot well all the way until the media timeout in the fourth quarter. YSU led 55-47 with 4:32 left behind Smolinski’s 24 points including six 3-pointers.

With just 2:12 left in the quarter, NKU cut the lead down to five at 59-54 as they went into a full court press.

Clutch free throws by Mary Dunn allowed YSU to increase the lead to five. A play later, Taugher completed an and-one to put them within two.

The game was tied at 63 after an NKU bucket by another Taugher layup. YSU called a timeout with 11.9 seconds remaining. The game headed to overtime as NKU came back from a deficit as large as 12 points.

In overtime, it was Melinda Trimmer and Smolinski doing a bulk of YSU’s scoring. They scored all 11 points of YSU’s points. With 45 seconds left, YSU led 74-71 behind Smolinski’s 30 points.

Barnes said that Trimmer’s great play in the game was one of the reasons they won even without a good game from Indiya Benjamin. Trimmer had a career-high 14 points including 7/7 from the free throw line.

Then, clutch free throws from both Trimmer and Dunn gave YSU the 77-71 with 11 seconds left. YSU won the game 77-73.

YSU’s next game is against Wright State University at 4:30pm on February 18.