Hot start helps YSU beat Vikings
Junior Jessica Schloemp had 18 points and seven rebounds in the win.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State women's basketball coach Tisha Hill wasn't certain how her team was going to react after the first half against Cleveland State Saturday.
The Penguins haven't had many 20-point leads this season, especially at the intermission.
The Penguins managed to keep their momentum in the second half, coming away with a 65-55 win over the Vikings in a Horizon League game at Beeghly Center.
YSU (5-13, 3-5 Horizon) finally shot the ball well and continued to play good defense against the Vikings (5-16, 2-6).
"This team is still learning how to win," said Hill. "That's why I was concerned how we would react after the first half because we are not used to holding a 20-point lead."
The Penguins committed 21 turnovers, but forced the Vikings into 24, 17 of them in the first half when they had more turnovers than points (15).
"It was so good to see the ball finally falling though the net today," Hill said. "It was nice to see all their hard work all week long finally pay off."
Junior Jessica Schloemp had her best effort of the season as she led the Penguins with 18 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Monique Godfrey was the only other Penguin in double figures with 16 points.
The Penguins shot well from the field, hitting 48.1 percent in the first half (13-of-27) when they built a 35-15 lead, and 43.5 percent (10-of-23) in the second half to finish at 46 percent (23-of-50), well over their season average.
Schloemp said that the hard work was finally paying off.
"We've been working so hard in practice and today the ball finally started falling for us," Schloemp said. "Defense is always number one with us, but it was certainly good to see those shots falling."
The contest was close for about the first seven minutes which was when the score was last deadlocked at 6-6.
YSU then reeled off 18 straight points and 24 of the next 26 points to pull to a 30-8 advantage.
During that run the Penguins connected on four 3-point goals, two of them by the 6-foot-3 Schloemp.
Holding them off
In the second half, Cleveland State twice made runs that almost got the margin to single digits before the Penguins fought them off.
"We expected them [Cleveland State] to come back at us, they've done it all year, but I was proud of they way our kids stayed in there and battled to stay in command," Hill said.
Cleveland State, which had four players in double figures, three with 11 points, came back to within 13 points (48-35) on Dominique Butler's steal and layup. Butler had 10 points, while Chenara Wilson, Kailey Klein and Brittany North all scored 11.
Velissa Vaughn hit a 3-point shot for the Penguins, who then ran off six straight points to pull back on top, 54-35.
The Vikings made one last charge, scoring six straight points and cutting the lead to 11 points (57-46) with four minutes left, but Schloemp made two straight baskets and Godfrey and Lauren Branson each had a pair of free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Saturday's game was the first of a three-game home stand for the Penguins, who will return to action Thursday against Illinois-Chicago in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Beeghly Center.