By Jon Moffett
If the Youngstown State women’s basketball team had just been able to keep Butler’s Chloe Hamilton from scoring in Thursday’s game, the Penguins would have won in a landslide.
But YSU couldn’t keep Hamilton from scoring at will and lost 73-56 against a Bulldog team ranked No. 2 in the Horizon League.
Hamilton had 34 points for Butler. There were times in the game she outscored the Penguins by herself.
“She ran hard and worked really, really hard for all of her points tonight,” said YSU sophomore Brandi Brown. “And she deserves a lot of respect for the game that she played. She worked really hard.”
Hamilton, a 5-foot-10 senior forward, looked like she could beat the Penguins (3-20, 1-11 Horizon League) all by herself. She had 20 points in the first half. YSU as a team had 21. Hamilton was 11-of-16 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line.
For as hot as Hamilton was early, the Penguins were ice cold. YSU began the game on the unfriendly end of a 12-0 run after the tip. Including the first few minutes of a throttling against Green Bay, the Penguins have opened the past two games with a 38-0 deficit. The team shot 39 percent from the field and only 60 percent from the foul line. The Penguins’ only offense again came from Brown, who scored 20 points.
Coach Bob Boldon said the Penguins’ game plan is not a secret. Teams have started to plan for Brown by double-teaming her or forcing her into bad shots. But without a second scoring threat, the YSU offense remains frozen.
“We could use a secondary scorer. There are very few teams that are successful relying on one person night in and night out,” he said. “When she got off to a slow start, we all kind of get off to a slow start. Now she got together and had a nice game for us offensively, but we do have a hard time scoring. We’ve had a hard time scoring since the first game of the year. I think we’ve shown improvements, but we’re still not a very good team.”
The Penguins did get 12 points out of junior forward Tieara Jones. But the Rayen School graduate fouled out with 7:25 left in the game. Boldon has said he does not believe in sitting a player solely on her foul trouble and has said that it isn’t his style to force a player to sit when she has fouls to give — he likened it to a football coach taking timeouts into halftime.
And since the Penguins have little to no height outside of Brown (5-foot-11) and Jones (6-foot-1), his options are limited.
“When [Jones] got her fourth foul, I looked down the bench and was going to put our 6-foot-4 kid in. But we don’t have one. So I decided to stick with our 6-foot-1 kid,” he said. “I don’t know what else we’re going to do. We get beat by 16 on the boards with her and Brandi in the game. When we take either of them out, we just get annihilated on the boards.”
Boldon said he will continue his philosophy of playing Jones, despite foul trouble.
“If she picks up four fouls on Saturday [against Valparaiso] with 10 minutes to go in the game, because we’ve got to play her and Brandi as much as we can play them,” he said. “That may be the definition of insanity, but at this point I may be going insane so it will fit perfectly.”
When asked about the runs teams have again the Penguins to start games, Boldon said the effort has to improve — or at least the want-to has to get better.
“To me, I don’t know how you can be a Division I athlete and not be mentally ready for a game,” he said. “I imagine that’s why you decide to play college basketball — for the games. If you’re not ready for the games, I can’t work with you. I can’t fix that.
“We can talk about strategy and stuff like that, but to me the games are my favorite part,” he added. “If you’re not ready for the game, there is something intrinsically wrong with you if you’re going to be an athlete.”