By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team hosted Purdue University Fort Wayne where they secured a 16-point victory over the holiday break. The lady Guins’ picked up their third conference win of the season and improved to 9-4.
It was a strong bounce-back win for the Penguins after their 77-68 loss to Cleveland State University on Dec. 29. They defeated Purdue Fort Wayne, 60-44, on Dec. 31, 2022.
Following the loss to the Vikings, head coach John Barnes talked about how the Penguins struggled with offensive rebounding.
“We had some open looks that didn’t go in but I mean again I think it was offensive rebounding and turnovers. We had 16 turnovers, they only had 11. They had 16 offensive rebounds,” Barnes said.
During the Purdue Fort Wayne game, fifth-year senior Lilly Ritz dominated offensively as she led the team with a double-double. Ritz scored 20 points, 14 rebounds and three assists to go along with 10-of-14 from the field.
Junior Malia Magestro was the second leading scorer, adding 16 points and three rebounds for the Guin’s. Magestro shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 6-of-10 from the field.
Senior Shay-Lee Kirby came off the bench and played well defensively, adding seven points along with three rebounds.
After the first quarter, the Penguins had a four point lead, in the second quarter. The Lady Guins’ went on a 13-point run and held a 15-point lead at the half.
Early in the fourth quarter, Purdue Fort Wayne cut the Penguins’ lead down to 12 points, but despite being outscored in the quarter, the women pulled out victorious over the Mastodons and improved their conference record to 3-1.
After the game, Barnes mentioned the importance of bouncing back after a loss to Cleveland State, “take care of business at home.” The Penguins turned the ball over 25 times in their victory.
The women then went on the road to start the new year, heading to Detroit to take on the 2-11 University of Detroit Mercy Titans. The women won by a score of 77-45 on Jan. 5, heading into the new year with a conference win.
Senior Emily Saunders led the Penguins in scoring off the bench with a career-high 18 points and four rebounds, shooting 9-of-12 from the field.
Callahan had 15 points with four rebounds and two assists. She also shot five-of-nine from three.
Ritz had 13 points and five rebounds. Senior Paige Shy also scored 13 points, shooting three-of-five from 3-point range, along with four rebounds and three assists.
Early in the first quarter, the Penguins jumped out to a 21-4 lead over the Titans and held them to just 10 points. Scoring 28 points in the second quarter the Guins’ lead at halftime 53-24.
In the third quarter, Youngstown State only scored seven points, but allowed 13 points from the Titans. The Guins’ would head into the fourth quarter leading 60-37.
Saunders scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Guins’ held the Titans to only eight points. As a team, Youngstown State shot 54.5% from the field and 11-of-22 from the three-point line.
The Penguins went on to win their fourth conference game of the year and improved to 10-4.
The women continued their second road game of the New Year, heading to Oakland University to take on the 7-7 Golden Grizzlies. The Penguins won a thriller in overtime by a score of 68-67.
Ritz led the Penguins with another double-double, scoring 18 points along with 17 rebounds. Callahan and Shy both had 13 points, Magestro scored nine, and Kirby added eight points off the bench.
Youngstown State jumped out to an early 20-11 lead in the first quarter. It was held to just nine points in the second quarter and went into halftime with a five point lead. In the third quarter, it was an offensive battle for both teams. The Penguins still held an eight point lead heading into the fourth.
The team struggled offensively in the fourth quarter and found themselves down two points with 16 seconds to go. Callahan would make two clutch free throws to tie the game at 61, sending the game into overtime.
During overtime, both teams traded punches. The Penguins would have another tied game with less than seven seconds left. Callahan was fouled and sent to the line where she went one-of-two, putting the team up, 68-67.
The women would lock-up defensively and pull out the victory in overtime. Securing their third straight win and improving to 11-4 overall on the year.
Despite coming out on top, Barnes said the women still need to play their best basketball as the Horizon League tournament approaches.
“This weekend taught us a lot, the Oakland game was a very difficult game, went into overtime and we watched a lot of film on that and I think the players learned a lot. Hopefully that makes us better for our next game,” Barnes said.
The women’s basketball team will continue conference play at home Jan. 12 when it takes on Robert Morris University at 7 p.m.
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis will also be in town Jan. 16. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be listened to on 570 WKBN or watched on ESPN+.