By Brian Yauger
Talk about making a statement.
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team took down the 20-time defending Horizon League champion University of Wisconsin–Green Bay in dominant fashion, defeating the Phoenix 70-59.
“We’re fighting for a league championship, it doesn’t get any bigger than that,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “To play Green Bay and play like we did, I’m just super proud of them.”
Green Bay came out hot, taking a quick 10-0 lead. The Penguins trailed the entire first quarter, but a 3-pointer from Mary Dunn a minute into the second quarter gave YSU their first lead of the game.
The teams went back and forth throughout the second quarter and it ended with a 32-32 tie after a last-second basket by Sarah Cash.
Cash, a fifth-year senior scored 19 points and brought down eight rebounds in the win. This marks the first time in her career Cash has beaten Green Bay.
“I came back because I wanted to win,” Cash said. “It feels good to beat them because we have to beat them if we want to win the championship.”
Wisconsin native Chelsea Olson tore up the competition, finishing four assists shy of a triple-double.
“We’re on a bit of a high right now,” Olson said. “Being from Wisconsin makes it extra sweet.”
Olson scored 19 points, as well as bringing down 13 rebounds and six assists.
“We had to be aggressive on the offensive side,” Olson said. “We knew our defense was going to be able to win the game. It was just our offense, we needed our offense to be more aggressive to win this game.”
Third quarters have been the death knell for YSU in past meetings against Green Bay, but the Penguins flipped that on its head, outscoring the Phoenix 22-10.
“They [Green Bay] usually come out super strong in the third quarter and go on a run,” Barnes said. “We flipped it on them and won the third quarter. I thought we were really aggressive. We pounded it in. Some of our set plays were working and we just took care of the ball really well.”
Sparking that third quarter run was McKenah Peters who hit a huge 3-pointer to put the Penguins up six and forced the Phoenix to call a timeout.
The number 11 played a prominent role in the game. The Penguins snapped an 11-game losing streak against Green Bay, sank 11 3-pointers, won their 11th straight home game and picked up their 11th conference win of the year.
Melinda Trimmer added another 11, scoring 11 points.
Beating Green Bay pushes the Penguins up the standings to second place in the Horizon League. They now control their destiny and can come out on top if they run the table.
The Penguins take the court at Beeghly Center one last time in the regular season on Sunday against the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for Senior Day.
The postgame press conference said it best.
“It’s a great time to be a basketball fan around here,” Barnes said.