Cold shooting doomed the Penguins in a 71-61 setback to Bowling Green.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown State University women's basketball team had trouble finding the basket Saturday night. The result was a 71-61 defeat in its season opener against Bowling Green State University at Beeghly Center.
The Penguins shot 25.9 percent from the field in the first half and improved slightly in the second half to 36.8 percent, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Falcons, who also began season play.
"You have to be able to shoot the basketball to win," said YSU coach Ed DiGregorio. "We didn't do that tonight.
"We played pretty good defense -- any time you hold a team like that to 71 points -- but the bottom line is shooting and we didn't, and we just didn't take it to the hole very well tonight," he added.
Scoring: The Penguins had two players in double figures. Sophomore Heather Harris led the way with 16 points, while freshman Jen Perugini added 11 and led the team with 15 rebounds. Senior center Jenny Horner had 11 rebounds as the Penguins outrebounded Bowling Green 53-41.
The difference in the game was Bowling Green senior Francine Miller, who hit 9-of-20 shots from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range for a game-high 26 points.
The Penguins trailed by 11 at halftime, 32-21, but came to life in the second half and pulled to within four points of the Falcons 45-41, but then Miller sparked an 11-0 run and the Falcons pulled back in command 58-43 with 6:40 remaining.
Cut the gap: YSU got to within seven points, 62-55, on Harris' 3-point goal with 3:03 remaining and was within five points, 64-59, with 2:15 left on two free throws by Cathy Hanek, but that was as close as it got.
"Bowling Green played a very tight man-to-man against us and we just couldn't handle it," said DiGregorio. "Outside of Maggie [Johnston] and Heather [Harris], nobody drove to the hoop.
"I was pleased with the play of both our freshmen underneath [Perugini and Tara Fleming], and Jenny [Horner] also did a great job inside."
The Penguins' cold-shooting start kept them in trouble throughout the first half.
Cold start: YSU missed its first nine shots from the field, but the Falcons could still only take a 6-4 advantage.
The Penguins didn't score their first field goal until the 13:13 mark of the half and after Harris scored, Perugini added another bucket before they went on another 0-8 drought and fell behind 13-8 and never really came close to the Falcons the rest of the half.
The Penguins were 7-of-26 in the first 20 minutes for 26.9 percent and just 1-of-6 from 3-point range, a far cry from their exhibition performance just three nights ago when they shot 53 percent from the field and made 13 3-point goals.
Led only once: The Penguins led only once in the first half and that was 8-6 with 12:15 remaining on Perugini's jump shot.
Freshman Tara Fleming made a couple of buckets and Harris had the only 3-pointer of the first half.
Miller, who had 13 of the team's first half points, hit a 3-pointer at the 2:01 mark to give the Falcons their biggest lead, 31-19.