By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team was back home this week, hosting conference rival Robert Morris University on Jan. 16. The Penguins picked up their sixth conference win with a score of 65-48.
Fifth-year senior Lilly Ritz continued to dominate, recording her ninth double-double of the season. Ritz led the Penguins, with 19 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.
Senior Paige Shy played a big part in the win, scoring 15 points and six rebounds. Shy also led the team in steals with three and added four assists.
Head coach John Barnes talked earlier in the week about sixth-year senior Megan Callahan facing off against her former team.
“Ultimately, Megan wants to win every game equally, she will get ready like she always does,” Barnes said.
Callahan played a big game against her former team, scoring 14 points, three rebounds and two assists.
After the first quarter, the Penguins held a two point lead. In the second quarter, the ‘Guins went on a 13-point run and held the Colonials to just seven points. They led at half, 31-19.
By the third quarter, Robert Morris cut the Penguins’ lead to eight points. The women had an explosive fourth quarter, scoring 21 points. Ritz and Callahan combined for 15 points.
Despite shooting 16% from beyond the arc, the women held on and secured the 17 point victory at home and improved to a 12-4 overall record.
On Jan 16, the team hosted Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. The women lost a close game that came down to the final seconds by a score of 64-61 and fell to 12-5 for the season.
The Penguins struggled against the Jaguars offensively as they shot 38.9% from the field. They were also outscored in the paint. The top-scorer of the game was IUPUI’s Destiny Perkins — she scored 18 points, six assists and two steals.
Youngstown State was led once again by Ritz, she recorded her 10th double-double of the season scoring 15 points and 10 rebounds. Despite recording a double-double, the Jaguars played well defensively and held Ritz to just 6-of-20 from the field.
Junior Malia Magestro had 11 points, four rebounds and five assists. Callahan scored 13 points, three rebounds and two assists. Senior Jen Wendler added five points off the bench.
After the first quarter, the Penguins led by one point, and by halftime, the game was tied up at 32. In the third quarter, the Jaguars jumped to a 6 point lead heading into the fourth.
The ‘Guins would find themselves up one with three minutes to go. Then, with little over a minute remaining, IUPUI’s Natalie Andersen hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put the Jaguars up by four. The Penguins were not able to come back.
After the loss, Callahan spoke about the two tough upcoming road games.
“Unfortunately we lost, but on the plus side there is so many things that we can learn from this game, we’ll definitely watch film on this game and that will prepare us for Green Bay and Milwaukee,” Callahan said.
On Jan 20, the women’s team traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the 14-3 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Penguins were victorious by a final score of 63-60 and snapped Green Bay’s 11-game win streak.
Four starters scored double digit points in the victory. The ‘Guins were led by Ritz who had a bounce-back game shooting 7-of-8 from the field. She finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Magestro scored 12 points along with four assists. Senior Dena Jarrels had 11 points and five assists. Callahan also scored 11 points, all in the first half, and had three rebounds.
The Penguins went into halftime with a 33-32 lead over Green Bay. Ten of Ritz’s 14 points came in the first half.
The women found themselves down one point heading into the fourth. Jarrels would hit a deep 3-pointer with two minutes left in the game that shifted the momentum, putting the Penguins up by two. The ‘Guins would hold on to the lead and win by three points.
The Youngstown State women’s team would go on to win a key game on the road and picked up its seventh conference win improving to 13-5 for the season.
Despite splitting two games at home, the Penguins are still in a three-way tie for first place in the Horizon League. After defeating Green Bay, the Penguins traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to take on the Panthers on Jan. 22. For more information on that game, check out ysusports.com.
The women will return home Jan. 26 to host Wright State University. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.
Northern Kentucky University will also be in town Jan. 28. Tipoff is at 1 p.m.