The Penguins rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State women's basketball coach Tisha Hill was in midsentence about hard work finally paying off in the Penguins' 79-67 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee when she stopped.
Hill couldn't go on when she caught a look at sophomore shooting guard Kristy Gaudiose, who had entered the room.
"I can't get over how beet red Kristy is right now," Hill said. "She's just blushing because she scored so many points. It's not a tanning bed malfunction or anything, trust me."
Gaudiose had her best college game on Saturday in front of 1,764 in Beeghly Center, scoring a career-high 24 points to lead the Penguins in a Horizon Conference victory that snapped Milwaukee's three-game winning streak and their own two-game slide.
For the record
The Penguins (9-11, 3-6) played Milwaukee (9-10, 6-3) close in the first half, but still trailed 37-32 at halftime. The effort was there, Hill said. And there was just more of it as in the second half. Gaudiose said the team played with emotion that was responsible for the come-from-behind win.
"We got pumped up and when you start getting pumped up the energy starts flowing," Gaudiose said.
The Penguins overcame their halftime deficit with vigorous defense. The Penguins had half of their eight steals in the second half and forced 25 turnovers for the game.
Youngstown State pushed to tie the score at 42-all with 15:09 to play on two Michelle Holmes free throws, but Milwaukee answered with Megan Rogers' 3-pointer.
The Penguins followed with a 10-0 run and never trailed from there. By the time point guard Lauren Branson looked up with about seven minutes remaining, she knew the Penguins were firmly in charge.
"It wasn't too big of a lead, but it's a turning point where you can either win a game or they can come back and beat you," Branson said. "A lot of times this year we've let people come back and beat us and we weren't going to let that happen today."
Branson had eight assists and Gaudiose was a recipient of a few.
"That's why I got my open looks, it was all because of my teammates," Gaudiose said.
Gaudiose said a drill the Penguins did in practice over the week helped break the losing streak.
"We did a drill that was called the happy drill," she said. "And everyone had to get pumped up for each other. We looked sort of dumb doing it because we celebrated about anything."
Mention of the drill brought laughter back to Hill, who confirmed the players looked silly getting excited over every positive move at practice on Friday, but it worked.
"I told them after the game, 'This is huge win for you. This is a huge win for this program and you deserve it,'" Hill said.