Penguins finally find a way to beat Loyola
Youngstown St. withstood a comeback for its first win in eight tries against Loyola.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Eight was enough for Youngstown State's women's basketball team.
The Penguins finally found a way to beat Loyola of Chicago, defeating the Ramblers 62-55 Wednesday night in a Horizon League matchup at Beeghly Center.
YSU hadn't defeated the Ramblers in the previous seven attempts. In doing so, the Penguins also ended their four-game losing streak.
"We needed this," said the Penguins' Jen Perugini. "It was our time to get them on our home court."
But it wasn't easy.
Scary moments at end
YSU led by as many as 16 points in the second half, powered by the inside presence of seniors Perugini and Tara Fleming. The Canadian combo combined for 31 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocks.
But the Ramblers (4-12, 1-4) staged a furious comeback and pulled to within one point, 56-55, with less than a minute remaining.
The Penguins never relinquished the lead and secured the win down the stretch by going 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
"Whew!," said relieved YSU coach Tisha Hill, whose team improved to 7-8 overall and 2-3 in the Horizon. "I am not going to live to 40 if they keep doing this to me.
& quot;It was an all-out effort. We got some defensive stops when we needed them and played hard for 40 minutes."
Perugini and Fleming took turns sparking the Penguin offense.
Perugini tallied 10 of her game-high 18 points in the first half. Fleming took over in the second half after Perugini committed her fourth foul with 17:35 remaining. Fleming, a 6-foot-3 center, scored eight of her 13 points before fouling out with just more than two minutes to go.
Fleming added a team-high 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.
"Coach says that games are played in spurts," said Fleming, who also collected five blocks to reach 100 for her career. "It just felt great to be at home. We struggled on the road."
Perugini returned to the lineup with 5:40 remaining and made a couple of key plays: She dished off a nifty pass to a cutting Jessica Schloemp, who then laid it up for a 55-50 lead at the 1:26 mark.
Perugini also went 4-for-4 at the line in the closing seconds.
"I knew we would have a matchup advantage in the post and our guards were going inside, looking to get it to them," Hill said.
"Every time out [as the game got closer] they came back to the bench and said, 'We are going to win this.' We didn't have that on the road."
Setting the early tempo
In the opening half, YSU scored on its first three shots from the field and opened with an early 7-0 lead.
The Penguins looked to run at every chance with point guard Lauren Branson pushing the ball up the court.
Branson's fast-break layup gave YSU a 9-3 lead at the 16:55 mark and started another 7-0 run over the next 51/2 minutes as the Penguins took a 16-3 lead and led 30-22 at halftime.
YSU shot a 54.2 percent from the floor and held the Ramblers to 31 percent. But YSU committed 13 turnovers and four offensive fouls in the first half to kept the Ramblers in the game.
Each team finished with 17 turnovers.
Youngstown's Barb Fabianova had a poor shooting night, going 3-for-14, but made three pivotal 3-pointers to finish with nine points and four assists.
Meskhenet Lands led Loyola with 15 points, Jenna Real had 10 points and freshmen center Tanika Massey came off the bench to record eight points and nine rebounds.