Skol! Penguins steal win from Norse

Senior Malia Magestro shoots a three inside Beeghly Center. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Dylan Lux / The Jambar

At the 7:13 mark of the second quarter, Northern Kentucky University held a 25-7 lead over the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team in their Feb. 24 matchup. At the final buzzer, YSU had defeated the Norse, 68-64.

Heading into the game, the Penguins were 8-9 in Horizon League play, while the Norse sat at 7-10. 

The Penguins played without senior guard Malia Magestro in the matchup because of an illness. Magestro averages 10 points per game for the ‘Guins.

The first quarter saw a slow start for both teams, as only seven total field goals were made in the period. NKU led, 13-7. 

The Penguins shot 21% from the field in the first while holding the Norse to 22% shooting.

To start the second quarter, the Norse sailed out to a 15-0 run en route to a 25-7 lead with less than three minutes into the period. 

A layup by fifth-year senior Emily Saunders broke the Penguins’ scoreless streak at 7:39. YSU was 0-8 in shooting during the drought. 

The Penguins went on a 17-7 run after the Norse’s 25-7 lead. YSU went into the locker room down, 32-24.

With 1:38 left in the third quarter, Youngstown State cut the lead to 47-43 after a 3-pointer by fifth-year senior Dena Jarrells. 

After outscoring the Norse in the third quarter, 19-16, the score was 48-43 heading to the final 10 minutes of play.

The Norse held a six-point lead with 5:02 left in the game. Youngstown State had not led or tied the game to this point.

After a jump shot from fifth-year senior Shay-Lee Kirby, the Penguins tied the matchup for the first time, 58-58, with 3:57 remaining.

Kirby and Northern Kentucky junior Macey Blevins traded threes, making the score 61 apiece

After a Blevins layup, Jarrels sank a 3-pointer to give the Penguins their first lead in the game, 64-63, with 1:04 remaining. 

A free throw from the Norse once again tied the score, 64-64, but a layup by junior Hailey Thierry put the ‘Guins up by two with 31 seconds remaining.

The Penguins forced a turnover on NKU’s following possession, leading them to their fifth straight road win, 68-64.

As the Horizon League Basketball Championships approach, wins close to the tournament can be crucial, as the top five seeds in the tournament receive a bye into the second round — the top four seeds play at home. 

Interim head coach John Nicolais said the pressure down the stretch has helped the Penguins handle adversity.

“Coming down the stretch here, they all feel a sense of finality,” Nicolais said. “They want to finish things on a positive note, given the circumstances [and] obstacles they’ve been through. It’s hardened us a little bit, so we don’t get as phased on the road.”

YSU’s final home game of the season came Feb. 27 at home against Cleveland State University.

The Vikings were victorious in the matchup, 56-53. Kirby led the Penguins in points with 14, and Magestro had 10 points and led the game with 6 assists.

YSU held Cleveland State to 29% shooting, and its 56 points tied the team’s lowest point total in a game this season.

Youngstown State fell to 9-10 in Horizon League play, placing them sixth in the standings.

To round out the regular season, Youngstown State will head to Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 2 for a matchup against Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and can be viewed live on ESPN+ or listened to live on 570 WKBN.