YSU's defense fizzles in 71-63 defeat
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Just about the time that the ball finally started to fall through the hoop for the Youngstown State women's basketball team, its defense bottomed out.
The Penguins shot 45.1 percent from the field Thursday night, but the defense gave up way too many points, as they suffered a 71-63 loss to Illinois-Chicago at Beeghly Center.
YSU (5-14, 3-6 Horizon League) shot 47.8 percent in the first half, but still trailed by three points, 33-30, then let things get away in the second half.
UIC (12-9, 6-3), won for the fifth straight time and avenged an earlier loss to the Penguins, 67-62, in Chicago.
The Flames also shot 45 percent for the game, but were 15-for-28 in the second half for 53.6 percent which proved to be the difference.
"The ball just seemed to be falling their way tonight," said YSU coach Tisha Hill. "We definitely didn't bring our A game on defense.
"We just didn't do our part communicating with each other on defense and the results were too many easy baskets scored against us," she added.
"There was a lot of disappointment in the locker room after the game, but I still like the way this team is building confidence," she added.
No starter in double figures
None of the YSU starters finished in double figures. Sophomores Velissa Vaughn and Nikita LaFleur came off the bench to score 15 and 11 points, respectively, to lead the Penguins.
The Penguins also played without freshman Ta-myra Davis, who had just moved into the starting lineup. Davis sprained an ankle in practice this week.
LaShonda Grant was the top scorer for the Flames with 15 points while Kelly True added 11 and Nikki Grobbecker had 10.
YSU hit five of its first seven shots from the field. Sophomore Monique Godfrey connected on two straight 3-point shots and Jessica Schloemp added another pair of buckets, as the Penguins pulled to a 14-6 advantage with just under 14 minutes left in the first half.
But YSU suddenly went cold and also committed three straight turnovers while UIC reeled off 10 straight points to grab a 16-14 lead.
Flames lead for good
The Penguins tied it at 16, but a 3-point shot by True put the Flames into a 19-16 advantage which they never relinquished the rest of the night.
YSU kept the contest close for the rest of the half, but UIC began slowly to pull away early in the second half. A 3-point shot by Grant and another bucket by Grobbecker gave the Flames a 10-point advantage, 47-37.
Every time the Penguins would score, the Flames would answer with one of their own tallies, and led by 13 points (63-50) with 5:12 remaining.
UIC's biggest lead was 14 points (67-53).
YSU will play its third straight home game Saturday against Loyola of Chicago in the first half of a doubleheader at 5:15 p.m. at Beeghly Center. The YSU men will play UIC in the second game.
"When we lost out at Loyola earlier this year, it was probably the worst game we've played in the league this season," Hill said. "We're looking forward to doing much better on Saturday."