By Joe Scalzo
On Monday afternoon, as her coach was telling reporters some of the positive things he took from Saturday’s loss to nationally-ranked Green Bay, Youngstown State junior Brandi Brown put her face in her hands and shook her head.
“It definitely still stings a bit,” she said a few minutes later. “To know we had an opportunity to beat a top team, not only in our conference but in the nation, it definitely stings.
“But we know if we keep playing hard, we’ll have another opportunity, so that’s what we need to do.”
Thanks to a five-game losing streak, the YSU women can no longer finish .500 and are just a half-game better than last-place Milwaukee in the standings.
But if the Penguins (10-16, 4-11) can win at least one of their last three regular-season games, they have a chance to host a first-round Horizon League tournament game for the first time since 2008.
“That’s something that motivates us to keep working hard and keep going hard in practices,” said Brown.
YSU has lost 10 of its last 12 games but the streak, especially lately, is a little misleading. Five of its last six losses have been by five points or fewer, including Saturday’s overtime loss to Green Bay (77-72).
In fact, the Penguins often seem to play up (or down) to their level of competition, something that bodes well for this weekend when they travel to play the league’s second- and third-best teams in Wright State and Detroit.
In their best performance of the season, the Penguins beat the Titans 80-67 on Jan. 26, then nearly pulled off the upset of Wright State two days later, falling 71-66 in overtime.
“I think there is some confidence that we can play with any team in our conference when we do what we know we can do,” Brown said.
YSU still has one game left after this weekend — a road game at Cleveland State on March 3 — before the conference tournament begins on March 5.
“I think it would be great for us and for the community to play a home conference game,” said Penguins coach Bob Boldon. “It would be a really exciting atmosphere. The fans have been spectacular all year and it would be a great opportunity for everybody and a great opportunity for our kids.”