Penguins fall short to UIC in overtime
By Joe Scalzo
The Penguins were down seven points with 80 seconds left, their second-leading scorer was cheering from the bench in her warmups and their first- and third-leading scorers were carrying four fouls.
Considering you lose these types of games about 106 percent of the time, it would have been tempting to head home early to catch the start of the Saints-49ers playoff game.
But the Youngstown State women’s basketball team first gave the fans a reason to stay in their seats, then gave them a few reasons to jump out of them.
Kenya Middlebrooks and Monica Touvelle made 3-pointers in the final 65 seconds and Kelsea Fickiesen split a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to force overtime before Illinois-Chicago regrouped to drop the Penguins 77-68 in an turnover-filled, but enjoyable, Horizon League game Saturday at Beeghly Center.
“I don’t feel like I had a great time but it was nice to see our kids play hard,” said YSU coach Bob Boldon. “I don’t think effort was the issue today.”
So, what was?
Turnovers, for one. YSU had a season-high 25.
Defense, for another. UIC shot 56 percent for the game, including 57 percent (8 of 14) from behind the arc.
But after falling behind by 12 with 11 minutes left, YSU (8-8, 2-3) slowly chipped away at the deficit and, incredibly, had a chance to win it in the closing seconds of regulation.
After Touvelle made a 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds left to make it 63-62, YSU’s Tieara Jones and Kenya Middlebrooks pressured UIC’s Shamiea Green to fumble away the ensuing inbounds pass.
Fickiesen then drove the lane and was fouled on a layup attempt. She missed the first and made the second to tie the game. With 3.1 seconds left, Fickiesen stole an inbounds pass from underneath the UIC basket and dribbled 50 feet, attempting a running shot just inside the 3-point line that came up short. (Replays showed it wouldn’t have counted anyway.)
“You have to keep playing,” said Touvelle, a Boardman High graduate who finished with 19 points, five better than her previous career high. “You want to play until the buzzer goes off. Anything can happen.”
Flames guard Taylor Foulks opened the overtime period with a 3-pointer, then, two YSU turnovers later, hit another. The game was never really in doubt after that.
“I thought our kids did a great job of keeping their composure and fighting back and executing down the stretch to get it [to overtime],” Boldon said. “Even the shots [Foulks] made in overtime, we contested the one and the other one was from about 23 feet.
“You’ve got to give her credit. Those were two big shots and she made both of them.”
Foulks led UIC with 23 points and Jasmine Bailey added 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Flames (10-7, 3-3).
Brandi Brown scored 25 — one off her season-high — and grabbed eight rebounds for YSU, which was without freshman forward Heidi Schlegel (ankle tendinitis). Schlegel, who is day-to-day, was averaging 10.8 points per game.
“Heidi is a really good player,” said Boldon, “Anytime you lose your second-leading scorer, it takes something away.”