When YSU's starters needed a breather, the bench wasn't the answer, either, in an 80-71 loss.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CLEVELAND -- Twenty good minutes is about all that Youngstown State women's basketball coach Ed DiGregorio can get out of his team lately.
Thursday night the Penguins played pretty well for the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes, but it was the 20 minutes in between that led to YSU's eighth loss of the season in its first Horizon League contest, 80-71 to Cleveland State.
A sparse crowd of just over 100 at the Convocation Center watched the Penguins jump out to a 20-10 lead before falling behind at halftime, 42-33.
Youngstown State (3-8, 0-1 Horizon League) trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half, then battled back to within four points with less than a minute to play.
"This has happened to us the last four games, playing well at the start and then letting a good lead go to waste," said DiGregorio. "Hopefully, we'll come together now and start playing 40 minutes of basketball."
Comparisons: The Penguins made more field goals than CSU, 27-24, but Youngstown State was just 9-of-12 at the foul line, compared to the Vikings' 24-for-36.
YSU was whistled for 28 personal fouls, while Cleveland State was called for just 13.
"That's going to happen when you have a lot of young players on the floor," said DiGregorio.
The Penguins were led by junior point guard Maggie Johnston, who scored 20 points, including five 3-point goals.
Freshman Jen Perugini, who is back to full strength from an ankle injury, added 12 points and eight rebounds, while senior Jen Horner and sophomore Devin Novak each contributed 10 points.
The Vikings were led by their top scorer, Erika Roudebush, with 20 points, while Ashley Schrock added 15. Tonya Crum chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Cleveland State out-rebounded the Penguins, 43-36.
"Our problem was that we didn't get the help off the bench we needed," DiGregorio said. "When we built the early lead my coaches said that we have to give the starters a rest and when we did the players coming in just didn't do the job."
The Vikings' bench out-scored YSU 27-16.
CSU's concern: Cleveland State coach Duffy Burns was concerned about his team losing almost all of its big lead in the second half.
"We're a young team and they are finding ways to win, but they still don't have that killer instinct," Burns said. "We were up by 20 and we relaxed and let Youngstown State back in the game. Hopefully we will learn to finish the game."
The Penguins made eight of their first 12 shots and led 18-8. Johnston had two 3-pointers and Perugini eight points in the run.
The Penguins still led 24-15 with 9:01 remaining in the first half when CSU made a 12-0 run to take the lead with just over six minutes to go.
Youngstown State regained the lead at 28-27 on a pair of free throws by Heather Harris and last led 33-32 with 3:03 remaining, but the Penguins were shut out the remainder of the half and trailed by nine at the break.
CSU had a 10-3 run midway through the second half, pushing its lead to 68-48 with 9:22 remaining. It was 70-49 at the 8:44 mark before Johnston led the Penguins' comeback.
The 5-foot-5 guard from Lewistown, Pa. made a pair of 3-point shots before the Penguins went on 6-0 run behind four points from Novak to cut the lead to 71-63 with 4:55 remaining.
Within five: Another 3-pointer by Johnston and two buckets by Perugini put YSU within five points, 75-70, at the 1:15 mark, then Novak made one of two free throws with 49.9 seconds remaining to close the margin to four.
But the Penguins missed their final four shots, all 3-pointers, and had to foul the Vikings, who finished the game making 5-of-8 free throws.
The Penguins play host to Butler in a Horizon League game Saturday at 5:15 p.m. It will be YSU's first home game since Nov. 24.