By Kyle Wills
The women’s basketball team carried the momentum from Wisconsin over to this weekend’s trip as the Penguins took both games on the road.
The women once again started the weekend with an overtime matchup. However, this time they were able to come out on the better end as they beat Cleveland State University 77-69.
The Penguins were outscored in nearly every quarter, but a 17-8 second quarter run kept the team in the game. In the extra period, the team overpowered the Vikings with a 16-8 run.
Multiple players were involved in the offense as four Penguins scored at least 10 points. Senior Chelsea Olson led the offense with 21 points while fellow senior Lilly Ritz dominated on both sides of the ball with 17 points and 18 rebounds.
Junior Mady Aulbach was also efficient from the field as she scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, and sophomore Malia Magestro finished with 11 points.
As a team, the women came out hot, shooting near 50% in the first half. However, in the second half, they only shot 30%. The offense ignited once again in overtime as it shot 80% from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
The women kept their winning ways against Purdue University Fort Wayne and also avoided the extra period as they defeated the Mastodons 69-55. The Penguins went into the half down 30-25, but outscored Purdue Fort Wayne 44-25 in the second half.
Senior Megan Callahan silenced the Mastodon crowd by scoring 11 of the Penguins’ 20 fourth-quarter points and finished the game leading the team in points with 19. Ritz wasn’t far behind with 18 while Olson and Magestro were also again in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively.
For Magestro, this marks her eighth time in the last 10 games scoring at least 10 points.
Callahan had been struggling lately as she’s shot at least 40% in only three games since the start of the new year. Head coach John Barnes was impressed with her performance against the Mastodons and how her play has been improving.
“Megan’s put together two, three good games, so that consistency is what we need. The Purdue Fort Wayne game was huge. We needed someone to step up. She made some defensive plays, made two [3-pointers] in a row. That really took the air out of them,” Barnes said.
For the weekend, Ritz averaged a double-double of 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Her performanced garnered her Nike Horizon League Player of the Week. It marks her third time earning the honor and her second time in the last four weeks.
The team was great offensively as it shot over 44% from the field while converting 17 of its 21 attempts from the charity stripe.
As the season dwindles, multiple teams are in contention to finish with the top spot in the Horizon League. With only two weeks left in the regular season, Barnes emphasized that the team needs to use these last few games to bring out its best basketball.
“We’re just trying to take every game in itself and try to improve as the last four games happen, so we can be playing our best basketball once tournament time hits,” Barnes said.
The women will play their final two games at Beeghly Center this weekend as they host Northern Kentucky University at 7 p.m. Feb. 18, and Wright State University at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20. Those interested can watch or listen on ESPN+ or 570 WKBN.