Penguins allow UW-Green Bay to escape
YSU senior forward Barb Fabianova scored 17 points in the loss.
Youngstown State women's basketball team let one slip away Saturday at the Beeghly Center.
For the second year in a row, the Penguins had perennial Horizon League powerhouse UW-Green Bay on the ropes, but couldn't hold on down the stretch as the Phoenix escaped with a 53-51 victory.
Tiffany Mor sank two free throws with 2.8 seconds to break a 51-all tie and lift UW-Green Bay to its eighth consecutive win. The Phoenix improved to 14-2 overall and 6-0 in the Horizon, and 12-0 all time against Youngstown.
YSU (7-9, 2-4 Horizon) held the lead for most of the contest behind Barb Fabianova's long-range shooting prowess and aggressive team defense.
Fabianova broke out of a recent shooting slump with a team-high 17 points, on 6-for-13 shooting, draining 5-of-6 3-point attempts. And the defense limited UW-Green Bay, which averages a league-best 70.9 ppg, to 34.5 percent from the field (19-for-55).
Too many miscues
But the Penguins committed 22 turnovers, 10 in the second half, which resulted in a 26-9 points-off-turnovers edge for the visitors.
"We wanted to come out strong, which we did. We wanted to keep them to a low shooting percentage, which we did. We needed to take care of the ball, which we did not," said Penguin coach Tisha Hill, whose team pushed the Phoenix to overtime last season.
"Anything over 15 turnovers and we will have trouble."
YSU led 23-19 at halftime and quickly built its biggest lead of the afternoon after Fabianova drained a fast-break jumper from the wing and then found Jen Perugini in the post for an easy bucket.
UW-Green Bay, the preseason league favorite, responded with a 13-0 run, keyed by eight points from Mor, to take its biggest lead, 34-29, at the 13:04 mark.
The Penguins fired back with a 15-4 run of their own, capped by 3-pointers from Fabianova and Perugini, to go up 42-36 with 8:58 left.
Flu fed fatigue
But the YSU offense sputtered in the final minutes as the Penguins began to show signs of fatigue.
"I've got 13 players on my team and all of them are sick," acknowledged Hill of a flu bug that went through the entire team this past week and sidelined backup point guard Ashlee Russo. "They are all exhausted. We have a day off tomorrow and they deserved it."
Cathy Hanek's 3-pointer at the 3:24 mark gave Youngstown a 51-45 advantage. But the Penguins came up empty on their last six possessions.
Mary Kulenkamp pulled UW-Green Bay to within two with a steal and a fast-break layup with just under three minutes left. The teams then went scoreless until Mor knotted the score with a layup with 41.2 remaining.
Mor tallied a game-high 18 points, including the game-winning foul shots.
"Yeah, they are upset," said Hill, of her squad. "But we forced a very good team into doing things that they are not used to.
"I am so loving this team defense. If they give that type of effort every game we are going to win some ball games."
"We should still stay confident," added Fabianova. "We can win these games."
Perugini finished with 10 rebounds and seven points. Tara Fleming had nine boards and Lauren Branson dished out seven assists for the Penguins.
Nicole Soulis added 13 points for UW-Green Bay, which held a 34-30 edge in rebounds and went 11-for-13 from the charity stripe.