By Marc Weems
With the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team (4-10, 0-3 Horizon League) currently on a three-game losing streak, they look to win their next two games to put themselves back on track.
“I don’t know if I should be excited about competing and being right there in games,” John Barnes, YSU women’s basketball head coach, said. “Obviously the group that we are playing with, it has been a challenge and a struggle. We are hoping to get over the hump.”
Barnes also said that he isn’t sure if he should be disappointed because they aren’t winning those games that they always compete in.
YSU has lost six out of its last seven games. In those games, they’ve given up nearly 76 points per game, while only scoring while averaging 71 points per game.
The Penguins hope that their next two home games can put them on the right path. With a game against the University of Illinois – Chicago (3-12, 0-4 HL) on Jan. 12, and a game against Valparaiso University (5-10, 0-4 HL), YSU will get its chance.
“It hurts and it’s disappointing,” YSU guard Indiya Benjamin said about losing. “We just have some loose ends that we need to put together. We are going to continue to work on those and get better.”
YSU’s first opponent, UIC, is currently skidding as they have lost five consecutive games and have lost 11 out of their last 12 games.
UIC allows teams to average 72.5 points per game, but they average almost 11 steals per game as a team. They also allow teams to shoot 43 percent overall against them.
For YSU offensively, they average 69 points per game while shooting just under 40 percent overall.
On defense, the Penguins give up 74 points per game while also allowing teams to shoot 43 percent against them.
UIC’s offense only musters 62 points per game while shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc and also 55 percent from the free-throw line.
“Defense has been the reason we’ve been successful in the past,” Benjamin said. “Not being as good has hurt us a lot. We have to focus on using defense, and then the offense will come to us.”
Benjamin also said that part of that problem has been all the injuries the team has had, but doesn’t use that as an excuse for them not playing well.
After their game against UIC, YSU will take on Valparaiso on Jan. 14.
Valparaiso averages 64 points per game, while giving up 76 points per game—although Valpo does shoot 79 percent from the free-throw line. Valpo’s bigger issue is that it averages almost 20 turnovers per game.
“I think we know who we are and what we can do. It’s now just trying to raise our level of play,” Barnes said.
Barnes also said that Sarah Cash, who hasn’t played since Dec. 3, will most likely not play the rest of the year and will redshirt because of her injury.
“We are fortunate to have those players on our team, and how they’ve stepped up for us,” Benjamin said about the freshmen athletes. “We have to continue to keep working and to do our best. We have to keep making strides and getting better each day.”
YSU will also be without guard Alison Smolinski, as she is being put through concussion protocol.
“Holding everything together is tough,” Barnes said. “We are just trying to focus on the little things and getting our young players improved.”
YSU faces UIC on Jan. 12 at 5:15 p.m. and they also take on Valpo on Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m.