By Kyle Wills
After losing its last two road games to the University of Akron, Nov. 18, and Western Michigan University, Nov. 22, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team snapped its three-game losing skid in front of the home fans at the Beeghly Center on Nov. 26.
Youngstown State sent the crowd home elated after defeating St. Francis College 70-41.
The Penguins struggled offensively in their previous matchups, unable to shoot above 32% from the field. However, they shot more efficiently against the Terriers, shooting 42.1% from the floor and 46.4% from 3-point range.
Head coach John Barnes said with the women building off the team’s momentum, numerous players thrived in clutch moments.
“It was definitely nice to see the lid come off the basket a little bit for us. We’ve all been a little frustrated with our shooting. I felt like we’ve got nice looks, but they just haven’t been going in. Today, we started off making a few and it was contagious, and a lot of players stepped up and made big shots,” Barnes said.
The shooting struggles continued for Youngstown State to start the game, as it missed its first four shots and fell 7-0 early to St. Francis Brooklyn. However, two made free throws from sophomore Tenleigh Phelps sparked the Penguin offense to a 10-point run. After taking the lead at the end of the first quarter, Youngstown State never trailed.
Junior Malia Magestro helped put the Penguins in front with six points in the opening quarter, draining two 3-pointers, while sixth-year senior Megan Callahan added her own 3-point shot.
The second and third quarters were all Youngstown State as it outscored St. Francis Brooklyn 45-15 in the middle periods.
In the second, the Penguins made their first six 3-point attempts, with Magestro and Callahan each draining three to lead them to a 24-point second quarter. The women also had four steals in the periods with senior Mady Aulbach having two.
In the third period, fifth-year senior Lilly Ritz was hot from the floor, making three field goals. Senior Paige Shy denied the Terriers the ball with two steals, and added four points.
Youngstown State was great from beyond the 3-point arc in the contest as 13 of its 28 shots were able to fall. It also generated 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 19 second-chance points.
Defensively, the Penguins held the Terriers to just 30.6% shooting, along with forcing 17 turnovers, resulting in 26 points off turnovers.
Magestro finished the game with a career-high 24 points, shooting 9-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc. Callahan wasn’t far behind with 16 points, making nearly every shot, draining five-of-seven from the field with all five makes from 3-point range.
Magestro said with inconsistencies on offense, the victory was a cornerstone with Horizon League play coming up.
“We definitely needed this as a team. We’ve been struggling obviously from shooting, which normally isn’t a thing for YSU, so we’ve just needed to find our game and we knew it’d come eventually. So, this is really good for our confidence going into conference play,” Magestro said.
Callahan said with conference play on the horizon, the win helped get the team back on track.
“It was definitely light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like we had a good week [of practice] and that is a big spark going into conference play, which is what we needed,” Callahan said.
The women’s basketball team will be back on the road for a two-game stint when it takes on Northern Kentucky University at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 and Wright State University at 4 p.m. Dec. 4. Both games can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.