By Kyle Wills
Both the Youngstown State University men’s and women’s basketball teams concluded their seasons this month, but the women’s campaign as a whole ranks well in Youngstown State history.
The women’s basketball team finished the 2021-22 season with an overall record of 24-7. This marks the sixth-best record in program history. The five other teams were led by Hall of Fame head coaches Ed DiGregorio and Joyce Ramsey. Ramsey was the first women’s basketball head coach in program history.
The women’s 24 wins under head coach John Barnes marked the 11th time in history it reached the 20-win plateau and the first time since the 2018-19 season.
With the team’s performance this year, Barnes was able to garner Horizon League Coach of the Year. He became the second Youngstown State coach to take home the Horizon League award.
However, Barnes is the third coach to win coach of the year as DiGregorio took home Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year on two occasions.
This year, the women were co-regular season Horizon League champions for the first time in program history since joining prior to the 2001-02 season.
The last time Youngstown State claimed that title came during the 1997-98 season when it went 15-1 in the Mid-Continental Conference.
That year, the team earned a school-best 28-3 record and made its way into the Mid-Continent Championship where it defeated Valparaiso University 78-69. With the win, the Penguins punched their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.
The women earned the No. 12 seed in the tournament and were paired against No. 5 seed Memphis. They managed to pull off the 91-80 upset to collect their first NCAA Tournament win in YSU history.
The team’s last NCAA Tournament bid came during the 1999-2000 season.
In the 1999-2000 campaign featuring 22 wins, the Penguins would reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years. It also marked the final winning season of DiGregorio’s YSU career.
The team’s next winning season came in 2012-13 under head coach Bob Bolden. The gap of over a decade included a 0-30 campaign during the 2009-10.
Inside this year’s 24-7 season was the team’s 18-4 record in Horizon League play. Its 18 wins marks the most conference wins in program history. The previous mark was 15 wins from the 1997-98 campaign.
This season, the women had two players named to the All-Defensive Team in senior Lilly Ritz and junior Mady Aulbach. Only one other Penguin had been named to the team prior, that being Lauren Branson during the 2007-08 circuit.