Momentum is Key: YSU Will Look to Build on Huge Road Win

By Marc Weems

With the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team (8-15, 4-8 Horizon League) coming off a big win on the road, it will look to build on that gain. YSU’s 65-59 win in overtime against the University of Illinois at Chicago snapped its five-game losing streak with the Penguins heading to the state of Wisconsin.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (19-4, 10-2 HL), their second opponent in Wisconsin, beat YSU 84-51 on Jan. 26 at the Beeghly Center behind Jessica Lindstrom’s 19 points and 12 rebounds.

“It’s huge for this team that has been battling all year,” YSU head coach John Barnes said about their overtime win at UIC. “They’ve given everything they have to get a road win. It brought everybody’s spirits up.”

One of the major things for YSU is that both Mary Dunn and Jenna Hirsch played against UIC — both players were limited in the last few games. Barnes said they are both moving slowly back to playing, but are at least moving towards it.

Indiya Benjamin (3) drives to the basket as multiple Akron defenders look on in a game on December 6, 2016.

Green Bay averages 69.5 points per game while giving up just 50.8 points per game, which ranks second in the country.

“We haven’t focused too much on not having a road win,” Barnes said. “We’ve just been trying to keep things in perspective and focus on ourselves. It could get in their mind as young players, but it really doesn’t.”

Barnes said that at this point just getting wins is what matters — not really where it happens or how.

For YSU, they give up the most points in the conference at 73.3 points per game. On offense, YSU averages 68.4 points per game while shooting 78.9 percent from the free throw line, which is sixth in the country.

“We have struggled with matchups this year,” Barnes said. “For instance, in the [Valparaiso] game, we struggled because they have a taller girl who caused us issues.”

Defensively, YSU has struggled with teams that have size or that move the ball well. Their UIC win was a testament to their true defensive abilities.

YSU has one game that comes before the Green Bay, when they travel to play the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (15-8, 7-5 HL) on Feb. 9. Milwaukee narrowly escaped YSU at the Beeghley Center with a 78-74 victory on Jan. 28.

Milwaukee’s size was also an issue for YSU as forward Steph Kostowicz put up 22 points and 12 rebounds along with six blocks.

“We showed some good things against Milwaukee,” Barnes said. “I think that defensively, we need to step up and have a great game. They are second in the conference in scoring offense, and they are very good from the free throw line. We allowed them to get them to the free throw line 28 times.”

Barnes said that they need to be in better positions so that they don’t have a team shooting nearly 30 free throws in a game.

Milwaukee averages 74.3 points per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. YSU allows teams to shoot 43 percent from the field, but only 31 percent from the 3-point line.

“We just have to do a great job on the defensive side of the ball,” Barnes said. “We are really struggling. We showed some signs against UIC, but we need to take another step forward. Milwaukee is a great shooting team and will be a big test for us.”

Barnes also said that no matter what cards they’ve been dealt, they should no doubt be better than they are.

YSU will look to build off their last win against UIC as they hit the road. They play Milwaukee at 8 p.m. on Feb. 9 and then go to Green Bay to play on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.