The Flames' hot shooting proved too much for the Penguins.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A look at Jen Perugini's face illustrated effort even a half an hour after Youngstown State's Horizon League game against University of Ilinois-Chicago at the Beeghly Center on Thursday night.
Her face was red as a cherry and her blonde hair was matted back from sweat. But even her supreme effort -- a 16-point night with eight rebounds and two blocks -- couldn't stop the Flames. UIC defeated Youngstown State 73-65 in front of 1,348 for its fifth consecutive victory. The streak is the longest since a stretch in the 2000-01 season.
"We started off really flat," Perugini said.
The Penguins (8-11, 2-6 Horizon League) shot only 31 percent from the floor in the first half. Though they improved to 46.9 percent in the second half and even cut the lead down to seven points with 3:13 to play, UIC kept hitting shots and never wavered.
"We've got to come ready to play, there's no reason for us to come out that flat," Penguins coach Tisha Hall said.
The only thing flat about the Flames was how smooth their shooting was. Kelly True came off the bench to score 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including four 3-pointers. True came in averaging seven points per game. But Dejeanette Flournoy led the Flames (9-11, 6-3) with 19 points. Flournoy came in with a 7.6 average. Her team shot 45.8 percent in the second half.
"The secret is we are getting good shots," UIC coach Lisa Ryckbosch said.
UIC point guard Chrissy Dizon made sure of that. Dizon dictated the tempo on both sides of the court, earning four of the team's eight assists while scoring 10 points.
The Penguins got some encouraging signs from the bench -- My'Kea Cohill scored seven of her nine points in the second half and Kristy Gaudiose hit a 3-pointer that shaved the Flames' lead to 69-65. But the Penguins were forced to foul with only 24 seconds remaining after Gaudiose's basket. UIC scored their last four points at the foul line in the waning seconds.
As Youngstown State hits the meat of the conference season, Hill knows the desire is embedded in her team. She's just hoping it emerges ready to play on Saturday when the Penguins play Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 2 p.m. in the Beeghly Center.
"This team has fight, and I know that," Hill said. "They're just as hungry as we [the coaching staff] are.
"We're in the heart of our schedule. It's time to pick it up and be ready to play."