By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team got back with an 87-64 win against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Jan. 31.
Now the Penguins will travel to Wright State University on Feb. 5. The Raiders are 16-5, 5-2 in Horizon League play. A win against WSU would put the Penguins in a tie with the Raiders for second place in the conference.
YSU held on to win the first meeting 75-70 against WSU back on Jan. 22. With the score tied at 48 halfway through the second half, the Penguins were able to pull away after guard Indiya Benjamin scored 11 points in the final 7:35 of the game.
The Penguins will have to contend with Horizon League scoring leader, WSU point guard Tay’ler Mingo. She’s averaging 23.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.7 steals per game. Mingo scored 30 points against YSU during the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 22.
“We’re trying to run their stuff and get ready for what they do. We pretty much focused our whole defense on her [Mingo] last time and she had 30,” head coach John Barnes said. “So I don’t know what we’re going to do differently, but we’re going to try a few different things to try to get that number down a little bit.”
Defense is always a key to the Penguins’ success. WSU is first in the conference in scoring, averaging 78.3 points per game. Barnes and the rest of the coaching staff will have to create a game plan to slow down the Raiders’ high-powered offense.
“You can go one of two ways: let her get hers and try to stop everybody else or try to really stop her and have some of the other players score when they normally don’t score that many,” Barnes said. “It all depends on the night too. They have good players around her. They just put up 108 points against Oakland [University] in their last game. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Senior forwards Latisha Walker and Heidi Schlegel will need to come up big for the Penguins in the post. WSU is one of the best teams in the conference at rebounding — the Raiders are second in the conference in rebounding margin, 6.8 per game. WSU’s Tayler Stanton is second in the conference in rebounds, averaging 10.8 per game.
After the YSU’s win against UWM in the last game, the Penguins are confident they can win heading into the Nutter Center. Barnes said the team is well rested and ready to play on Thursday.
“Mentally, we’re prepared,” Barnes said. “We believe we can beat them because we already have, obviously. We know it’s going to be a different situation on their home floor, but we’re going to go in there with confidence and aggressive and give it our best.”