‘Thank goodness for Brandi Brown’

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Senior forward Brandi Brown scored a season-high 33 points against Cleveland State University at Beeghly Center on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Brown was named YSU’s first female First-Team Academic All-American player. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

As Bob Boldon, women’s basketball coach for Youngstown State University, entered the media room for a post-game press conference on Thursday, an intern swapped in a clean chair for the one Brandi Brown had been sweating in only moments earlier.

“You don’t know how happy that makes me,” Boldon said.

But not happier than winning, he said. “And not happier than having Brandi Brown on my team either.”

That may be because the senior forward—who was named YSU’s first female First-Team Academic All-American earlier in the day — scored 33 of the Penguins’ 73 points, leading to a 73-69 victory.

The game marked a season-high score for Brown, who was just shy of her career-high 35 points scored against the University of Illinois-Chicago in March 2011.

“It wasn’t like it was a volume night for her. She was efficient,” Boldon said.

Brown stole the show, playing for 37 minutes and outscoring every other player on the court by no less than 13 points.

“It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t anything fancy,” Brown said. “We battled, and we came up with the win, but we know that isn’t how we play.”

Boldon said his players went hard against Cleveland State University — a team he said was difficult to guard — and overcame a weak first half and some injuries.

“I thought they hung in there after not shooting particularly well and not scoring particularly well in the first half,” he said.

Junior Karen Flagg was taken out of the game early because of limited mobility in her hand, and after teammate Heidi Schlegel left the game in the second half due to a knee injury, that left the Penguins down to seven players.

“Those are two people who we depend on for a lot of different things, so with them out I knew I had to be more aggressive to help my team win,” Brown said.

Boldon said he hopes Flagg will return by their next game on Saturday at Loyola University, but couldn’t comment on Schlegel’s injury.

He did, however, say that as long as he can fill the court, they’ll play on.

“If we play with seven, we play with seven. I truly believe that if we play with five that those five will play as hard as they can for as long as they can,” he said.

With five games remaining, the second-place Penguins stand one game ahead of the University of Detroit as they. Loyola ranks fourth, two games behind YSU.