By Madeline Hippeard
Before heading to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, the Youngstown State University basketball team spent time handing out Thanksgiving turkeys for students and their families at the Youngstown Community School.
Senior guard Mady Aulbach organized the event with the help of Boak & Sons and Valley Industrial Trucks through an NIL deal. The two businesses donated enough money through the Penguin Collective to help Aulbach distribute 100 Thanksgiving meals to their community.
The ‘Guins started out their Thanksgiving week of play with a 94-40 loss at West Virginia University. Throughout the game the Mountaineers outshot the Penguins by 26.9%.
Fifth-year senior Dena Jarrells scored the Penguin’s first points of the game with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
The ‘Guins trailed West Virginia closely at the first media timeout of the game, 11-6, but were unable to keep up with the Mountaineers.
To start the second quarter, the Mountaineers scored the first 18 points. The ‘Guins were unable to recover from the large point deferential, resulting in their first loss of the week.
On Nov. 24 and 25, the Penguins participated in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
Head coach John Nicolais said before heading to the tournament, he tried to create a locked-in and game-ready headspace with his team.
“We explained it to them to not waste opportunities … We have six seniors or super seniors that will finish their career here so the time that we have within each practice and each game to try to maximize the opportunities they have and not have regrets after each one,” Nicolais said.
On Day One of the tournament, the ‘Guins lost 63-50 to the University of Rhode Island.
Fifth-year forward Emily Saunders said the Penguins knew Rhode Island would be a difficult opponent to face.
“We want to take advantage of the huge challenge that we have in Rhode Island and the next teams we play,” Saunders said. “This is a really, really good team that we’re about to play and it’s a really good challenge before conference play for sure.”
Youngstown State had an early 10-8 lead in the beginning of the game, but lost it as Rhode Island scored the final 10 points of the first quarter.
After losing their lead in the first, the ‘Guins were unable to recover offensively going into the half down 31-20.
The Penguins continued to fight hard, getting as close as eight points behind Rhode Island, but could not close the score gap, ending the third quarter behind, 43-30.
The ‘Guins started the fourth quarter strong with a 9-2 run making the score 49-39, but were pushed back by an 8-0 run for Rhode Island.
Youngstown State was unable to come back, ending the game, 63-50, with its third loss in a row.
The next day, the Penguins took on Northern Arizona University.
Northern Arizona held a large lead over the ‘Guins for the majority of the game, including a 41-28 lead at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, NAU held the largest lead of the game, 51-32.
The Penguins continued to fight throughout the third quarter and managed to bring the score to 56-48 heading into the fourth.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, fifth-year senior Shay-Lee Kirby and sophomore Abby Liber scored for the Penguins, bringing the team three points behind Northern Arizona, 58-55.
The ‘Guins were unable to flip the script on the Lumberjacks and earned their fourth loss in a row, 74-70.
The Penguins return to action at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 to start Horizon League play against University of Detroit Mercy.
For more information on the game visit ysusports.com. To watch or listen live visit ESPN+ or 570 WKBN.