Heather Harris broke out of her slump with`18 points, while Jen Perugini added 16 with 12 rebounds, to lead the Penguins' 75-67 victory.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- There's nothing like being back at home to help cure some of the problems with the Youngstown State women's basketball team.
The Penguins, who last played at home on Nov. 24, put on a sold performance here Saturday night to defeat Butler University 75-67 for their first victory in the Horizon League at Beeghly Center before just under 1,000 fans.
"Boy, it certainly is nice to be back at home," said YSU coach Ed DiGregorio. "It's been so long since we've been home it seems like last season."
The victory improved the Penguins to 4-8 on the year, 1-1 in the Horizon League, while Butler fell to 1-13, 0-3.
"We're starting to grow up a little bit," added DiGregorio. "We played all 40 minutes and we played defense, especially our inside players like Jen Horner and Jen Perugini."
Leaders: Sophomore Heather Harris, who has been struggling of late, came out of her slump with an 18-point effort to lead the Penguins, while Perugini had her fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds and also added two steals and three blocks.
Two other Penguins finished in double figures, including junior Maggie Johnston with 13 and Horner with 12. Horner also had eight rebounds.
Butler was led by Tiffany Smith with 21 points, including four 3-point baskets, and Nancy Bowden scored 12.
The Penguins, who took the lead midway in the first half and never trailed again, shot 48.4 percent in the second half and 43.1 percent for the game. They were out-rebounded by the Bulldogs 45-35.
Took off: The Penguins led by just three points, 43-40, with just over 16 minutes remaining in the second half, but then came to life.
They hit a 10-4 run midway through the half, including six points by Harris to take a 53-44 advantage with 7:34 remaining.
Butler got to within four points, 53-49, before Johnston hit a 3-pointer and then the Penguins went on a 7-0 run and took command again, 68-56.
Last 9 from line: YSU scored its last nine points of the game at the free throw line, as the Bulldogs were fouling to get the ball.
"This was a big win for us, because it gives us some confidence going into our next game," DiGregorio said.
The Penguins played well in the first half, other than the 21 missed shots from the field. YSU made just 13-of-34 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes, but still managed to hold a 33-27 margin at halftime.
One reason was that Butler was 11-of-27 and committed 16 turnovers to the Penguins' eight.
Butler leads: Butler jumped out to an 11-4 lead when the Penguins had trouble finding the range early. The Bulldogs still led 19-8 with 12:39 remaining before the Penguins got rolling.
YSU went on a 10-0 run led by Perugini, who scored six of them and took the lead (19-18) with 8:40 remaining.
The lead changed hands four more times before YSU, on a 3-pointer by Johnston, pulled ahead 26-24 with 4:40 to play. The Bulldogs tied the score at 26, but Heather Harris hit a 3-point goal and a two-pointer and the Penguins were in control at halftime.
The Penguins will play at home for the second straight game next Thursday, when they play host to Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m. at Beeghly Center in another Horizon League contest.