By Joe Catullo Jr.
With 7:29 remaining in the first half, Ashley Lawson hit a jumper and extended Youngs-town State’s lead to 17.
It looked like and was an ordinary shot, but in Lawson’s mind it was the end to her 651-basketball day hiatus.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Lawson said, regarding her jumper. “It felt great [to play]. I think I performed okay.”
The redshirt freshman competed in her first collegiate game on Sunday and played 15 minutes during YSU’s 83-52 victory over Wilmington at Beeghly Center.
Last year, Lawson tore her left shoulder in two places during summer weight-lifting. She also had a bone bruise earlier this season.
Lawson said the last time she played was against South Point High when her team, Miami Trace, fell to them in a district semifinal on Feb. 24, 2011.
“Ashley was very, very excited to get in the game after all this time, and I thought she did some really good things,” YSU coach Bob Boldon said. “She obviously made some mistakes, but it’s nice to have some things on tape to correct with her.”
Lawson was not the only unfamiliar face on the court. Taylor Hvisdak played 18 minutes and scored 11 points. Hvisdak hails from Lowellville and always has family members in the stands waiting for her to excel.
“It’s a good feeling being from home and everything, and they come to support me every game,” Hvisdak said. “After every game, they’re like you’ll get your chance. They always keep my head up, and they always make sure that they’re there for me.”
Boldon said he was not surprised by her performance.
“Taylor does what Taylor does,” he said. “That’s the energy and effort you’re going to get out of her every time you put her in the game.”
Monica Touvelle, normally YSU’s sixth-woman, started and finished with a game-high 20 points.
“We got everything accomplished that we wanted to get accomplished,” Boldon said. “We got Monica some shots, and she knocked down some shots, which were good. We were able to work on our motion a little bit, and we were fortunate enough to get a win.”
Touvelle got her opportunity with Liz Hornberger sitting for preventative reasons.
“I expect her [Hornberger] to play how ever many games we have left and probably a lot of those minutes,” Boldon said. “It was an opportunity for us to rest her a little bit.”
The Penguins (7-2) shot 42.4 percent and tallied 36 points off 27 turnovers. Brandi Brown scored 17 points (15 in the first half) and grabbed nine rebounds.
Wilmington (6-3) played 19 players as Makenzie Wippel led with 11 points.
The Penguins have a full week off before heading to West Virginia on Sunday. The Mountaineers received 68 votes last week in the NCAA rankings, which is the highest from a non-ranked team.
“I think we could definitely beat them,” Hvisdak said. “We know that this is a really big game, so we’re definitely going to come to perform.”