During Wednesday’s press conference, Heidi Schlegel said she has seen a major improvement in Liz Hornberger’s confidence on the court.
That poise paid pivotal again Saturday evening at Beeghly Center.
“When she’s confident and leading, the team follows,” coach John Barnes said. “We’ve got to keep her playing well. We’ve got to keep her confidence and be aggressive. We’re trying to keep her from not passing up any shots and keep being aggressive.”
Hornberger scored 17 points during Youngstown State University’s 87-71 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Hornberger has been confident all season off the court even after the Penguins (8-9, 4-0 in the Horizon League) lost nine of their first 13 games this year. On the court is a whole different story. It relates back to her freshman season three years ago.
Hornberger hated practicing before games. She would get nervous and only think about her mistakes. Now, she does the exact opposite.
“This year, every time before games, I always tell myself ‘I’m going to shoot when I’m open. I’m going to drive the lane. I’m going to make the passes that are open,’” Hornberger said. “I just try to do the basic things.
“Sometimes I stress too much. I just tried to turn down the nozzle a little bit and just shoot when I’m open because coach Barnes always tells me to shoot when I’m open.”
Hornberger displayed her confidence early with nine points and two assists in the first half. YSU led the Panthers (5-11, 1-2), 45-37, at halftime. The scoring didn’t stop from there.
The Penguins then scored 42 points in the second half. Schlegel finished with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds. Monica Touvelle scored 14 points off the bench while Melissa Thompson had six.
“She had a stress fracture in her foot and was out for five or six weeks,” Barnes said regarding Touvelle. “That was during the beginning of the season, so it’s been taking her some time to get in game shape. That’s the same with Melissa Thompson. She’s fighting with a knee problem every day. Melissa’s been sitting out practices just so she can play in games.”
Hornberger said Saturday was probably the best offensive performance this year but not defensively. Ashley Green scored a game-high 25 points while Angela Rodriguez tallied 18. Nobody else scored higher than seven for the Panthers.
“Did we guard them?” Barnes asked laughing. “We normally try to start off a game making their non scorers beat you, but they were doing so well that, in the second half, we just started trying to not let their other players get any points.”
While the Penguins won, Cleveland State University fell to the University of Wisconsin-Green, 90-72. The Penguins are the No. 1 team in the Horizon League.
“I want to win with the girls on my team,” Hornberger said. “I don’t want to have to come back next year and watch them win. I don’t want Brandi [Brown] to come back and win. I want to win with the group of girls we have because everyone told us we couldn’t. I think we can do it; I know that we can do it.”