By Joe Scalzo
Three weeks ago, YSU freshman Heidi Schlegel blurted out in a press conference that the Penguins would beat Bucknell, prompting Penguins coach Bob Boldon to wince.
A day later, they won — by one point.
So when Schlegel talked to the media after last week’s win over Western Michigan, a reporter reminded Penguins coach Bob Boldon that Schlegel was 1 for 1 in predicting wins over B teams — and he had another B team coming up.
“We do,” he said, chuckling. “That B’s a little better.”
Coming off their first 20-point win in five years, the Penguins will host perennial Mid-American Conference power Bowling Green tonight in a series that has become more lopsided than Charles Barkley’s see-saw.
The Falcons drubbed YSU by 46 points last year — the Penguins’ second-worst loss of the season — and have won seven of the last eight games in the series.
But they return just one starter from last year’s 28-5 team, which lost to Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“Every year is different and I think it’s different for both of us,” said Boldon. “They’re obviously going through some growing pains and they’re playing a lot of new kids.
“It’s an interesting matchup [tonight].”
YSU (4-3) is off to its best start since 2008, when the Penguins started 4-3 and finished 14-17.
Junior forward Brandi Brown again leads the team in points (16.6 per game — fifth-best in the Horizon League) and rebounds (9.1 — fourth-best in the league) but the Penguins have been more balanced this season, with three players averaging nine points or more.
YSU freshman guard Kelsea Fickiesen, who scored a career-best 12 against WMU, said the key to beating Bowling Green is to play hard and smart.
“Coach preached to us that they like to play harder and smarter than teams so hopefully that’ll change tomorrow night,” said Fickiesen.
Junior Chrissy Steffen, BGSU’s lone returning starter, leads the team with 16.2 points per game, while sophomore guard Jillian Halfhill (Canfield) leads the Falcons (4-2) with 2.0 assists per game and is second with 8.8 points per game.
BGSU has won four straight after starting the season with two losses. The Falcons haven’t lost to YSU since 2003 and lead the overall series 14-10.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenging game,” said Fickiesen. “It’s going to be fun to see how we stand.”