By Brian Yauger
In their new pink jerseys, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team dominated in their Horizon League showdown on Feb. 2, defeating Detroit Mercy 91-45 and sweeping their five-game homestand.
The Penguins had seven of their nine players reaching double-figures. The last time YSU achieved this was in 1991, also against Detroit Mercy. Alison Smolinski led the team with 20 points, Mary Dunn had 14, Chelsea Olson scored 13, Sarah Cash and Melinda Trimmer each scored 12 and both Amara Chikwe and McKenah Peters scored 10.
“I think it showed our unselfishness,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “Point guards got us going in the right direction. We had a lot of shots that we felt like we were open but made the extra pass to a person that was really open. I’m proud of them for that. I thought we worked hard on both ends. Executed the game plan.”
After being held scoreless in the prior game against Oakland University, Smolinski came back with a vengeance. She sank her first five 3-point attempts to help the Penguins take a 19-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.
“It felt pretty good seeing that first one go down, it’s always a good feeling,” Smolinski said. “It gives you confidence and my teammates did a good job of finding me too.”
Smolinski finished shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 6-of-12 from behind the arc.
The Penguins finished shooting 60.7 percent from the field, the third highest in school history and their highest since 1998.
After the Oakland game Thursday, Barnes stressed the importance of keeping possession of the ball and limiting turnovers. He saw improvement in that regard in the second half.
“Very happy with how we took care of the ball in the second half,” Barnes said. “First half we were kind of loose with it. Nine turnovers. I think we only had four in the second half. That was our biggest key and goal in the second half was to limit the turnovers and they did a great job of that.”
In the final seconds of the game, Peters was one rebound shy of a double-double. She grabbed two boards that were waved off, setting her just short of the double-double mark. Peters led the team with nine rebounds. After the game, she said she didn’t even realize she was that close.
“I had no idea,” Peters said. “I heard people screaming ‘try and go in for a rebound,’ but I mean, I was just playing the game and like, if the ball came to me it came to me, if not, oh well.”
The players are already hoping to wear the pink jerseys again going forward.
“We felt good and we looked sharp in them,” Smolinski said. “Hopefully the coach lets us wear them for a couple more games.”
Next up for the Penguins is a two-game road trip against Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and University of Illinois Chicago before returning home for their final two home games. YSU has been dominant at home and is now 13-1 at the Beeghly Center.