By Kyle Wills
Winners of three straight, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team played its final home games of the regular season as it faced off against Northern Kentucky University and Wright State University.
In a battle of the Horizon League’s best, the women started their last homestand strong on Friday, Feb. 18 as they topped the Norse 62-49.
Senior Chelsea Olson had a stellar night from the field as she finished with 27 points while shooting a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Senior Lilly Ritz was behind her as she finished with a near double-double of 12 points and 9 rebounds. Junior Paige Shy ignited the Penguin offense with three straight baskets to start the third to score 8 of her 11 total points.
As a team, the Penguins were near perfect from the charity stripe as they knocked down 13 of their 14 free-throw attempts and were solid defensively, holding NKU to under 36% from the field.
Junior Mady Aulbach said everyone on the team pulled their weight, locked down on defense and outplayed NKU for the victory.
“We talked a lot in practice about everyone pulling their weight defensively and getting back to the principles we started with,” Aulbach said. “When we were at home versus Green Bay and Milwaukee, we didn’t have Lilly [Ritz]. We really stood our ground and we knew we had to buckle down on defense. We talked a lot about getting back to that mindset of almost being down a player even though we weren’t.”
The women honored Olson Sunday, on Senior Day, as the Penguins defeated Wright State 77-53.
Olson finished her final regular season home game with a near double-double of 8 points and 9 rebounds, but Ritz would lead the way as she finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Sophomore Lexi Wagner also supplied valuable minutes off the bench as she scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
This season has been one of “almosts” for Olson as she has been close to achieving single-game accolades many times. She nearly missed a triple-double on three occasions. On Nov. 15, she missed one by 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists, as well as on Dec. 30 by 3 points and Jan. 28 by 1 rebound. She also came close to numerous double-doubles on multiple occasions, and Sunday proved no different.
“Of course it was almost a double-double. I think I could have shot better, but most importantly, we got the win. We got the job done, so I’m most happy about that,” Olson said.
The team was able to lock up the Raiders as it held Wright State to under 33% from the field.
The women’s basketball team will look to finish the season on top of the Horizon League as it plays its final regular season games against Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis tonight at 6 p.m. and University of Illinois-Chicago at 2 p.m. Saturday. These games can be listened to on 1390 WNIO and 570 WKBN and watched on ESPN+.
“Anybody can beat anybody. You have to be ready, and if you’re not you’re going to lose so we’re going to have to play one of our best games coming up against IUPUI, but I think our team’s excited, especially with what happened in the last game against them,” head coach John Barnes said.