Cold spell dooms YSU in 72-61 loss
Trailing Butler by 1 with 10:06 to play, Penguins miss their next 14 shots.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University women's basketball coach Tisha Hill is not giving up on her team, but she is questioning its desire at times.
Butler University took advantage of a YSU second-half scoring drought to hand the Penguins a 72-61 Horizon League loss Saturday at Beeghly Center.
It was the Penguins' fourth consecutive loss since defeating second-place University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Jan. 29.
Trailing just 45-41 at the half, the Penguins kept within striking distance until a 10-minute span in which their offense went cold. A jumper by senior Cathy Hanek pulled YSU within 56-55 at the 10:06 mark, but the Penguins missed their next 14 field goal attempts, allowing the Bulldogs to cruise to the victory.
The Penguins (9-15, 3-10 Horizon League) hit 59 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half on 16-of-27 shooting, but connected on just six of 30 shots in the second half.
"Coming out strong offensively in the first half, I was pleased that we were knocking down shots and getting something to fall in," Hill said. "We've got people out there working hard on both ends and then we got some that are just out there going through the motions. When everybody comes together and when everybody's here on the same page at the same time, we're going to be tough to beat. But right now we're not there yet, and that's where we need to get to."
YSU senior Jen Perugini scored a game-high 20 points, 17 of which came in the first half on 7-of-7 shooting. The 6-foot-2-inch forward also grabbed 15 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. She is the only player in the Horizon League averaging in double figures in scoring and rebounding this season.
It looked as if Perugini might break her season-high scoring mark of 26 points when she completed a three-point play just seconds into the second half, but she was unable to get another shot until the 3:11 mark and connected on just one of five shots in the half.
"We knew we had to come out strong, and we tried, but we weren't hitting the shots in the second half," Perugini said. "I just think their coach [Beth Couture] probably yelled at them [at halftime]. They came out and were pushing harder and the other girls just have to come out and step it up."
The Bulldogs (11-12, 5-7) placed four players in double figures. Sophomores Jackie Glosser and Ellen Hamilton netted 15 points apiece, while junior Jessica Monaco came off the bench for 14 and senior Cortney Urquhart scored 12.
The balanced scoring attack of the Bulldogs is something Hill would like to see her team accomplish. Hanek, an Ursuline High School graduate, was the only other Penguin that hit for double figures with 10 points.
"Jen [Perugini] played a terrific game," Hill said. "She's working her butt off in there, but we've got to get people in there crashing just as hard and wanting the ball just as much and knocking down some shots. We've just got to do a better job as a team to really give her some help inside, open up some shots from the outside and defend. That'll be the difference in balancing out our scoring a little bit."