Next Woman Up: YSU Women’s Basketball Loses Another Starter

Youngstown State University guard Alison Smolinski drives around a defender on the way to the basket.

By Marc Weems

With the Youngstown State University women’s basketball coming back to the continental U.S. after a trip to Hawaii, the team came back with two big things: its first win of the season and another major injury to the team.

Senior guard Kelsea Newman injured her knee in their first game against American University. She now has torn her ACL. She joins another backcourt mate in Nikki Arbanas, who tore her ACL before the season starts.

“I feel terrible for her [Kelsea Newman]. It seems unlikely that she could get a sixth year of eligibility,” YSU head coach John Barnes said. “She really may be ready to get on, get a job, and get on with life other than play a sixth year. She’s worked so hard to get to this point but she has been unbelievable in being supportive and vocal.”

The question for Y Barnes is how the team can step up with these injuries and move

Youngstown State University guard Alison Smolinski drives around a defender on the way to the basket.
Youngstown State University guard Alison Smolinski drives around a defender on the way to the basket.


Even with the injuries, the Penguins have been able to move slightly past them. YSU beat Sacramento State University in Hawaii 102-94 for its first win of the season.

That win has given the team a bit of confidence. The team started three freshmen with forwards Mary Dunn, Natalie Myers and guard Mailee Jones.

Barnes said that he was very pleased with the way that the young players have played but it has been tough to figure out the rotations so quickly. He said hopefully sooner rather than later, once everyone comes back healthy, that he can build a stronger, more consistent rotation of players.

In their next game, YSU will play Tiffin University in an all-Ohio battle on Wednesday night. Tiffin, a Division II school, brings a 2-1 record into the game — YSU’s record is 1-3.

“Tiffin is very well coached. They are a very good 3-point shooting team and they have two very good seniors who will lead them,” Barnes said. “When Clarion played us in our exhibition game, they played us strong and that’s what I expect out of Tiffin.”

So far YSU’s biggest issues have been offensive and defensive production. On the offense side of the ball, they have only shot 25.6 percent from behind the 3-point line and average 66.5 points per game.

Defensively, the Penguins have given 76.5 points per game while teams are shooting 44.3 percent overall.

Barnes said it’s “easy to feel sorry for ourselves” but the team won its first game of the season and is happy to have gotten through that obstacle.

“I’m happy we have gotten past that issue. No matter what, the team’s attitude and my coaching staff have a great job keeping spirits up,” Barnes said.

The Penguins will also be playing Northern Arizona University on Monday.

“Going back out west isn’t a big deal. Going to Arizona after going to Hawaii is going to feel like traveling to Akron,” Barnes said.

“We know that there are going to be some ups and downs with such young players. We know that when we play well, we can beat almost anybody.”

YSU plays Tiffin at the Beeghley Center at 5:30 Wednesday.