By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team was able to come out on the better end of its Wisconsin road trip as the Penguins split their two matchups in the Dairy State.
The women lost their second consecutive game when they were defeated late in double overtime to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 70-69. Both teams were neck and neck through all six periods, but two Phoenix free throws in the final seconds gave Green Bay the final lead.
The Penguins didn’t do themselves any favors as they struggled to handle the ball and turned it over 26 times. The team tried to make it up offensively from 3-point range as 43 of the team’s 61 shots came from beyond the arc. However, of those 43 from deep, only 12 found the net.
Senior forward Lilly Ritz was once again dominant as she finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Senior guards Chelsea Olson and Lindsey Mack, as well as junior forward Paige Shy, also ended the game with double-digit points as they finished with 10, 11 and 12.
Despite coming out on the wrong end, head coach John Barnes was impressed with the way the team battled.
“You have a double overtime loss in which the game was incredibly tough. We had to use every ounce of energy during that game,” Barnes said.
The team then looked for redemption in Brew City as it faced off against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, defeating the Panthers 60-56. It was again a tight game for the Penguins, but a 19-9 third quarter run helped push them on top.
Mack helped the offense with a team-high 16 points off the bench. Ritz and sophomore guard Malia Magestro were the only other Penguins to score in double figures as they finished with 11 and 10.
As a team, the women improved their sloppy play and took better care of the ball with 11 turnovers and shot a higher percentage around the perimeter at 43%. It also had great performances from the sidelines to account for 23 bench points.
After back-to-back losses, the team was in a need for a change in momentum.
“That was a huge win. Not only for just trying to stay on top of the league, but also we lost a couple games, maybe [the team’s] confidence wavered a little bit,” Barnes said. “Milwaukee is a very good team. We haven’t won there since 2016, I think, so that was huge for our team to show a lot of character, a lot of heart, [and] a lot of toughness.”
Youngstown State has now tied the school record for most Horizon League wins with 13, and it moved a half-game ahead to reclaim sole possession of first place in the conference standings.
The women’s basketball team will look to carry the momentum into this weekend as the team is again on the road. It will battle with Cleveland State University tomorrow night at 7 and with University of Purdue-Fort Wayne Sunday at 2 p.m.
“We did a good job taking advantage of playing at home. Now that four of our last six are on the road, we’re going to have to steal a couple road wins to stay on top of the league and that’s a big challenge,” Barnes said.