The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team was pushed out of last year’s Horizon League tournament by Cleveland State University in the first round.
Entering the first round of this season’s conference tourney with a matchup against the Vikings once again, head coach Bob Boldon said the Penguins were thinking revenge.
“That was on everybody’s mind,” he said. “You remember what it felt like leaving Cleveland State last year losing…And that’s not something you quickly forget.”
In turn, second-seeded YSU defeated the seventh-seeded Vikings, 69-62, Wednesday night at the Beeghly Center. The Penguins next game is slated for Friday at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay at a time still to be determined.
“It’s feels amazing,” Penguins guard Shar’Rae Davis said. “Especially since it was flip-flopped last year. So it feels really good.”
While CSU entered with a record of 13-16, the Vikings gave YSU (22-8) all they could handle. After a back-and-forth first half, the Penguins held a 37-31 lead.
In the second period, YSU was able to gain a comfortable 14-point advantage before CSU cut the deficit to four points with just over a minute remaining.
But four consecutive foul shots from Davis and Brandi Brown sealed the Penguins victory.
“I think for the better part of the game we worked really hard,” Brown said. “They made a really good push towards the end of the game, but it feels good to come out with a win.”
Another strong effort from Brown secured that feeling. The senior forward scored a game-high 31 points while collecting 13 rebounds as well. YSU also received 18 points and eight assists from Davis.
But Brown said the Penguins received a welcomed boost from another source.
“It was nice to see all the support from all of the fans,” she said. “There were a lot of people out there tonight, and we fed off the crowd when they cheered and things like that.”
The announced crowd was a total of 1,648. Boldon agreed with Brown.
“I thought they provided energy,” he said. “I appreciate their patience, because it took us awhile to get going. But it was definitely nice. We were very lethargic to start the game and they didn’t quit on us.”
CSU was led by Shalonda Winton’s 19 points and 15 rebounds. Cori Coleman added 16 points for the Vikings.
“It doesn’t matter about your record now,” Davis said. “You can lose and be out. So we knew that and knew we had to go out and give it our all, otherwise we were going home. But we want to make it to the championship and hopefully win.”