Maggie Johnston, the Penguins' 5-foot-5 guard, challenged Kent State's 6-6 Andrea Csaszar to help YSU score a 79-64 win.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- You have to admire Maggie Johnston's fearlessness.
The YSU junior guard -- all 5-feet, 5-inches of her -- dared to penetrate into the paint several times to challenge Kent State sophomore center Andrea Csaszar, who is 6-6.
Sometimes, it worked -- Johnston had 17 points and seven assists.
Sometimes, it didn't -- she also had 11 turnovers.
"I don't know what I was doing," Johnston said with a laugh. "I think that's why I got pulled out of the game a few times."
Johnston could afford to laugh on a night when YSU (1-1) did far more right than wrong, opening up a 17-0 lead en route to an impressive 79-64 victory over the Golden Flashes (0-2) Saturday night at Beeghly Center.
"Our press really bothered them," Penguins coach Ed DiGregorio said. "We did a great job on defense. We came to play tonight."
Biggest lead: Kent didn't score until the 13:47 mark of the first half, and the Penguins quickly scored five straight to open their biggest lead of the night, 22-2.
After withstanding a 20-6 run from the Golden Flashes, YSU closed well and led 40-27 at the break.
"Anytime you spot a team a 17 or 19 point lead, you're in trouble," Kent coach Bob Lindsay said. "We had a lot of careless ball-handling and I think their press had something to do with that."
Heather Harris had 13 points in the first half and Johnston added 11 points and four assists.
Csaszar, a native of Szekszard, Hungary, led Kent with 16 first-half points, including 8-of-9 shooting from the foul line.
Good defense: The Penguin pressure forced the Flashes into 16 first-half turnovers -- eight off steals -- and Kent shot just 8-of-23 from the field.
"Our defense played a big role," Harris said. "Our pressure really helped. [Csaszar] killed us inside in the first half, but we helped out in the second half. It was a big win for us."
The second half was cruising time for the Penguins, as Kent never got closer than 11 points. YSU had five players finish in double figures, led by Harris with 20 points, three assists and six rebounds.
Jen Perugini had 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Cathy Hanek had 11 points and Jen Horner added 10.
The Penguins shot 50 percent from the field (27-54), but were just 16-28 from the foul line.
"I don't even want to go there," DiGregorio said. "That's horrible. I'm going to make them do line drills this week."
Good night: Csaszar finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but did most of her damage from the foul line, hitting 14-of-15. Christi Shibata had 10 points. Niles graduate Lori Krezeczowki did not score, but had two rebounds.
The Golden Flashes shot just 42 percent from the field, but did make 18-of-23 from the free throw line.
"We didn't go inside enough," Lindsay said. "We have four kids out [with injuries] and three of them are post players. We had to play a lot of sophomores and juniors and we don't execute as well."
YSU rebounded from its opening game loss to Bowling Green, a game in which they shot just 32 percent from the field. The Penguins now play nine straight games on the road and won't return home until Jan. 5.
"I think we'll do well," Johnston said. "This win gives us a lot of confidence."