By Ethan J. Snyder
Following a rocky start to the season, Youngstown State University’s women’s basketball team secured their first win Jan. 9 against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in their fourth home game of the season. The final score was 72-57.
By halftime, YSU was leading 31-30 and managed to trounce Oakland 41-27 in the second half making these the two highest-scored quarters of the season.
“I can’t understate how important this game was in getting a win for our team,” head coach John Barnes said at the weekly press conference. “We put in a lot of work and time — to have it pay off was nice. I thought our energy was good; I thought our effort was good.”
The team set season-high stats, earning 72 points, shooting 47.5% from the field, while also accumulating eight steals and 15 assists. They also overcame turnover issues that plagued their first three games by dropping their turnovers down to 12.
Senior Chelsea Olson racked up a game-high 24 points. Olson scored seven points in each of the first three games before jumping to 24 in the fourth. She needs 19 points to become the 23rd player in YSU women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career points.
Freshman Nneka Obiazor managed to reach a new career high with 11 rebounds and 22 points. Obiazor is currently ranked eighth in the Horizon League in scoring and seventh in rebounds.
“I think we took care of the ball a little better in the first quarter tonight. Our defense has been pretty solid,” Barnes said.
After the December competition was canceled, the team played two games against Wright State and two games against Oakland to start the season. Wright State already played six games this season prior to facing off against YSU, and Oakland had played nine games. The team won the next five games straight, beating UIC two weekends in a row.
“We’re starting to get a little more comfortable with our offense,” Barnes said. “We started off here in the league with two really good teams, so I’m happy to get that first win on the board and now we’ve just got to build on it.”
This is following two cancellations of all YSU basketball athletics, due to positive COVID-19 tests in the program’s Tier 1 bubble in late 2020. The Tier 1 bubble is made up of coaches, managers, athletes and support staff. Four non-conference games were canceled, along with the Horizon League postponing their first four games twice.
“It’s been a challenge for everybody. For us, for all of the teams. You just try to do the best that you can,” Barnes said. “I’m trying to be a little more understanding with what we’re going through, what our families are going through, what neighbors are going through and trying to put it all into perspective.”
In the final game against UIC Jan. 23, the Penguins walked away with a winning score of 71-55. For their next two game series they will travel to Moon Township, Pennsylvania to face Robert Morris for a two game series this weekend.