By Brian Yauger
The story of the last two games for the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team was missed shots. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday as the Penguins captured a 72-61 win over the University of Akron.
Turnovers, or lack thereof, in the second half proved to be a major key for the Penguins. YSU (5-2) had three turnovers in the second half compared to the first half’s 11. The improvement provided them ample opportunities for the defense to set up better and stop any Akron (3-1) momentum.
“I thought our defense was much better, and we took care of the ball,” Penguins head coach John Barnes said. “We had 11 turnovers in the first half and when you turn the ball over, it allows them to get easy baskets. It doesn’t allow you to get your defense set up. More than anything else we did a great job of taking care of the basketball so we could set our defense on the other end.”
The third quarter was some of the best basketball the Penguins have played all season. They outscored the Zips, 22-7, with a 50 percent shooting percentage, and ended it with an 18-0 run that proved to be the dagger. Despite being outscored by nine in the fourth quarter, that 18-0 run was enough to keep the Penguins advantage to a comfortable 11 points.
The Penguins shot 47.2 percent from the field on the game, an improvement over the last two game’s percentages of 27 and 35, respectively. That percentage was aided by a stellar Chelsea Olson performance.
Olson shot 55 percent from the field, and 90 percent from the free throw line, scoring 22 points, marking a career-high for the sophomore. It took until three minutes left in the third quarter for Olson to miss her first shot of the night. What was the difference maker tonight?
“Just being more confident in myself,” Olson said. “I’ve been struggling from the field this season, so just keeping my confidence up and knowing I can hit those shots because I can.”
Also making her presence known was senior guard Melinda Trimmer. Trimmer shot 50 percent from the field and scored 14 points. Trimmer also had four assists and three rebounds.
“I knew that something I needed to improve on for this game was attacking more and feeding the post so I knew going into the game that I was going to look to do that, and seeing the post players hit some shots, and it’s contagious, it makes me want to make a shot too.”
On the defensive side of the ball, McKenah Peters showed her skills, limiting Akron’s leading scorer, Megan Sefcik, to only seven points on the night.
“McKenah just shadowed Sefcik and stayed with her so they couldn’t make the long pass to her,” Barnes said. “Coach Nicolais and Coach Davidson have done great jobs with scouting reports. I thought they did a great job today taking away what Akron does, and take advantage of some other things that we do.”
Next up for the Penguins is a road trip to Buffalo to take on Canisius College on Dec. 1 before returning home to take on St. Francis (Pa.) at Beeghly on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.