Penguins Ward off Wagner 64-42

By Nathanael Hawthorne

After a tough road loss in its last outing, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team picked up a win against Wagner University 64-42 Saturday. The Penguins improved to 3-3 for the season.

One of the bigger stories heading into the game was that YSU was without two post players. Senior Mary Dunn and junior Emma VanZanten are both sidelined with injuries, and coach John Barnes needed to change up the game strategy. 

“It’s just tough because we’re having to revamp our whole offense [and] our whole defense,” Barnes said. “I’m happy we found a way to get through this game with a win because now we have nine days to tweak some things, put in some new things [and] work on what we’ve already put in.”

Barnes also realized he needed to rely on other players to step up and be the leaders the team needs. He said he believes juniors McKenah Peters and Chelsea Olson have stepped up and taken on that role.

Guard Chelsea Olson dribbles the ball down the court. Photo by Brent Bigelow/The Jambar

“I thought Chelsea and McKenah both did a great job running the show out there and being aggressive and leading us to the win,” Barnes said. “They understand they have to [lead]. … Those guys can do it more by their actions.”

Peters and Olson, along with freshman Maddie Schires led the team in scoring. Olson had her second double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Peters had 15 points and eight rebounds. Schires had 12 points — all of which came from beyond the three point arc.

As a team, the Penguins shot 37.3% from the field and converted on 11 3-pointers. Peters and Schires each had four and Olson added three as well.

The Penguin defense was one of the key elements in securing the win over Wagner. The Penguins held the Seahawks to only 10 points in the first half.

“[I’m] very happy with our defense giving up 10 points in the first half,” Barnes said.

After a tough loss against the University of Akron, the win is a big confidence for the team.

“[The win] is big… It’s definitely a confidence booster and we can go into next week just focusing on what next and how to adjust and how to get better,” Olson said.

Despite being injured, Dunn was still on the bench giving advice and guidance, as well as cheering on her teammates. 

“She still brings so much energy to our team and she’s still a leader even though she’s on the bench,” Schires said.

Before the injury, Dunn was leading the team in scoring with 68 points through a handful of games. The extent of her injury is unknown at this time, but Barnes knows it can be difficult to play without your top performer and pull out a win.

“It’s very unnerving to go without your first-team all-conference, senior captain, and leading scorer, so to be able to play well, play hard, [and] get a win just boosts everyone’s confidence,” Barnes said about Dunn’s absence.

The Penguins have a short break but get back to work on the road against Eastern Kentucky University Dec. 3.