Women’s team closing in on some key milestones
By Joe Scalzo
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team is no longer chasing Green Bay, but it’s still chasing history.
With one more win, the Penguins (18-7, 8-4 Horizon) will clinch their first winning record in Horizon League play since joining the conference in 2001.
With two wins, they’ll reach 20 wins for the first time since 2000 — the last year they made it to the NCAA tournament.
With three wins, they’ll finish no worse than second in the league standings. Green Bay, which is 12-0, already clinched a share of the regular season league title, its 15th straight.
The Phoenix need one win or one YSU loss to win it outright.
That’s what makes this week so important, YSU coach Bob Boldon said Monday. The Penguins play three home games in five days, starting Thursday against UIC.
“When you look from a historic standpoint from us joining the Horizon League, it’s important,” Boldon said. “It’s important for a team that’s worked incredibly hard to put ourselves in a situation to have a really good season.
“Obviously our goal was to win every game and to try to win the Horizon League. We’re going to be mathematically eliminated from that equation soon. But we can still be the second-best team in the Horizon League.”
YSU has already beaten three of its final four opponents but may have to play the rest of the season without its second-leading scorer, sophomore forward Heidi Schlegel, who injured her knee in Thursday’s win over Cleveland State.
When asked about her status, Boldon said, “I have no idea,” adding that she’s unlikely to practice on Monday.
“We’ll just continue to pray for good news and see what happens,” Boldon said. “Heidi does so many things for us. Her ability to play basketball from a skill standpoint is really important but her ability to think and talk us through so many things offensively and defensively — she brings a lot of things to the table and puts us in position to win so many games.
“We’ll certainly miss her if she doesn’t play.”
With four games remaining, Youngstown State has a one-game lead over Detroit (which lost to YSU on Feb. 7) and Loyola (which split the season series).
Junior Melissa Thompson said the Penguins will take a one-game-at-a-time approach, but admitted they’re aware of what’s at stake.
“Our overall goal right now is to keep our standing in second place,” she said. “We don’t want to leave it to another team and let it be, ‘Well, if they beat this team we can keep our second-place position.’
“We want it to be in our hands and we want to finish out with all wins.”