By Joe Catullo Jr.
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team suffered the season’s first Horizon League loss on Jan. 12 at Valparaiso.
Combined with last season, YSU went 1-10 on the road against conference foes. Oddly enough, that loss to the Crusaders is the Penguins’ biggest victory this season.
“I think that last loss on the road kind of woke us up a bit,” YSU coach Bob Boldon said. “It didn’t seem necessary at the time, but in retrospect it probably was. Our approach has been 100 times better since that game. The second time through will be a challenge.”
The Penguins have reeled off three straight conference road wins. They are also 6-1 against the Horizon League since the loss (6-2 overall).
“I think that some of our hard work has shown in the number of wins we have,” Brandi Brown said. “We’ve definitely improved a lot, but we just don’t want this midway point to be the highlight of our season. That’s not just the story of our season, being contenders midway through the season, but that we finished off the season.”
The other loss came against first-place Green Bay on Jan. 19. YSU gets another stab at them on Saturday. But before the second-place Penguins do so, they challenge Milwaukee (5-15, 1-7) on Thursday first.
The Penguins defeated the Panthers, 67-50, on Jan. 17 for the program’s 500th career victory. With eight games remaining, YSU will look to improve against Milwaukee.
“The nice thing about the game is there’s always room for improvement,” Boldon said. “If we want to continue to win games, we’ve got to find a way to take a lot better care of the basketball and omit some of these crazy turnovers we’ve been having.”
YSU comes off of a 58-53 victory over Detroit on Thursday. Karen Flagg scored a career-high 17 points and had six assists against the Titans.
“She’s done a nice job of continuing to grow and buy in this system,” Boldon said. “She can do things on this team that nobody else can do. She does a good job of creating in the high post — that’s something we’ve been looking for years.”
Not only is Flagg improving her game, but she is also helping her teammates any way she can.
“She sees the floor really well,” Brown said. “I think that’s been an asset to the team, and it’s helped me a lot. She’s been a benefit to me and to the team as well.”
The Penguins have three more days to prepare for Milwaukee while only having one for Green Bay. Boldon said he doesn’t wish the games were reversed. He just wants more time.
“I just wished we had four days to prepare for Milwaukee and four more to prepare for Green Bay,” he said. “And then this season would end in March or April, but they won’t let me have four days to prepare for each game. I can get you a number if you want to call somebody.”