By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team is on a four-game winning streak, and are preparing for their toughest game of the season.
The Penguins are coming off a 79-73 win against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Feb. 19 and an 87-69 victory against Valparaiso University on Feb. 21.
Senior forward Heidi Schlegel was named the Horizon League Player of the Week. Schlegel averaged 38 points, 9.5 rebounds and three assists last week.
“I just went out and played how I always do,” Schlegel said. “Mentally, I was just going to go in and play as hard as I can. My teammates got me the ball and my mindset now has just been I only have a few games left and I’m not going to second-guess my shots and I’m still going to find my teammates if I’m not open.”
YSU will host the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Feb. 28. Green Bay is the top team in the Horizon League and has already clinched the top seed in the Horizon League tournament.
In the last meeting with the Phoenix, the Penguins lost 66-43. The Penguins were inconsistent on offense, shooting 22.9 percent from the field.
“You have to be very meticulous on what you do offensively, you have to set great screens, you have to take care of the basketball,” head coach John Barnes said. “I think they forced 13 turnovers in the first half against us. If you don’t take care of the ball and be aggressive offensively, it’s going to be a long night. I don’t think we did either one at their place. I think we were very hesitant, which in turn forced us to turn the ball over more than we normally would. Taking care of the basketball, executing and being aggressive will be big keys for us.”
Schlegel said the team learned from the loss to the Phoenix in early January. She echoed Barnes’ belief that the team needs to be more aggressive and prepared for Green Bay.
“They’re a tough team, they’ve always been good. It’s always been Green Bay’s the best team in the league,” Schlegel said. “Up there, we faltered. We didn’t play up to our standard. I think we got intimidated and I think now we just have to come with confidence and we have to play our game and not worry about what they’re going to do. We have to be prepared for what they’re going to do, but we have to be focused on what we’re going to do and change what we did up there and execute on Saturday.”
Green Bay is ranked first in the conference in scoring defense — allowing 55.5 points per game. In the Phoenix’s previous game against the University of Illinois at Chicago, Green Bay held the Flames to 32 points.
“Green Bay will play their game,” Barnes said. “They don’t care who they’re playing or how good a certain opponent is or how good a certain player on the opposing team is — they’re going to do what they do and they do it pretty well. They have always been pretty good at plugging up the post area and being able to still get out to the shooters because they are still athletic, they’re long. They’re not going to change a whole lot. They’ll definitely make sure everybody knows where Heidi is and has a hand in there, but they’re going to do what they do.”
The Penguins will tip off against the Phoenix Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Beeghly Center.