By Cameron Niemi
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team were defeated in a heartbreaker at home by Northern Kentucky University in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League tournament with a final 59-58.
The Penguins lost a close game despite making a big comeback in the fourth quarter. The Beeghly Center was packed for the doubleheader tournament games.
Fifth-year senior Lilly Ritz finished off her collegiate career recording her 19th double-double of the season, as she scored 17 points with a season-high 21 rebounds, which is also a new Horizon League Tournament record. She scored 15 points in the second half and 10 in the fourth quarter.
Senior Dena Jarrells scored 15 points and had four assists. Junior Malia Magestro scored 10 points and had two rebounds. The Penguins bench scored just seven points.
The Norse had three players that scored in double-figures. Kailee Davis and Lindsey Duvall both recorded a double-double.
Despite the loss, Youngstown State played well defensively as it held Northern Kentucky to 33.9% from the field and 12.5% from beyond the arch. The Penguins did not play their best game offensively, they shot 37% from the field and went 6-of-27 from 3-point range.
Youngstown jumped out to an early 14-12 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter the Norse slowed down the Penguins offense, they held them to just eight points and outscored them by 10.
In the third quarter, Northern Kentucky added to their lead. It led by as many as 16 points. The Penguins hit a 3-pointer to end the quarter and cut the Norse lead down to 12.
The Norse went into the fourth quarter leading Youngstown 52-40. The Penguins continued to fight back as they cut Northern Kentucky’s lead to just five points with under three minutes to play.
Sixth-year senior Megan Callahan scored a layup with just eight seconds left to give the Penguins their first lead since the second quarter.
Coming out of a timeout, Northern Kentucky’s Duvall made a driving layup with just three seconds remaining to put the Norse up by one point. The Penguins attempted to hit a game-winning shot, but it did not land.
Despite the one-point loss, the Penguins showed great effort in their comeback. They held Northern Kentucky to just seven points and were just one play away from advancing to the semifinals in Indianapolis.
Magestro spoke after the game about the team’s performance and the comeback in the fourth down 14 points.
“I think it definitely says a lot about us as people and as players, we would do anything to win. It didn’t happen today, but we definitely can say we gave it our all,” Magestro said.
The Penguins finished the 2022-23 season with a 19-11 overall record and finished fourth in the Horizon League. Despite the quarter finals loss at home, Youngstown State will have high expectations for next season as it will bring back a majority of its players.