By Joe catullo Jr.
Youngstown State and Wright State players gathered to their benches to shake hands with fewer than 20 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game.
Brandi Brown wasn’t with her team. Instead, she stood at the Raiders’ foul line by herself.
Revolving the basketball back and forth, Brown watched the fans rise to their feet, wearing white shirts with Brown’s name and number on the back.
“It was like a scene from a movie,” she said. “It was just nice to see everyone around and people I know who really care about me and support me, who’ve encouraged me when I haven’t always felt the best or when we didn’t win any games. I felt really supportive and really loved, and I’m happy that we won the game.”
Brown scored a career-high 42 points and collected 21 rebounds during Brandi Brown Appreciation Night in the 64-54 victory. Not just the fans, but her team also wore the Brown shirts.
“I got it on under my shirt,” said coach Bob Boldon. “I’m wearing it for the rest of the year.”
The Penguins (20-7, 10-4 Horizon League) led by 14 at halftime before Wright State (11-17, 5-10) cut the deficit. What helped keep YSU in the lead was Brown’s free throw shooting, hitting 12 on 18 attempts.
While Brown had her day, the other seven Penguins combined for 22 points.
“I hope they can muster more than 22 on Monday,” Boldon said, referring to the home finale against Valparaiso. “The rest of the team didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, [but] I thought they did a good job of getting Brandi shots.”
Brown became the sixth player in YSU history to score at least 40 points in a game, the first since Tiara Scott in 2007 to have at least 40 points and 20 rebounds and broke Wanda Grant’s school record for career rebounds.
“When I got here, Brandi was a low-post player who was good, and the first thing I told her is ‘We’re going to change your game completely,’” Boldon said. “There hasn’t been an ounce of resistance since the day I got here of coaching her.”
Brown is more concerned about the team instead of possibly winning Horizon League player of the year. But she is concerned about Boldon winning coach of the year.
“Hecks yeah my coach deserves coach of the year,” she said, smiling and pounding the table with her right hand. “He’s the best coach I ever had. If coach Boldon doesn’t win coach of the year, I’m ... um, I really don’t got anything.”
Boldon doesn’t care about the award and would rather have Brown win hers. His mind, though, would change if they both won.
“I won’t give it back, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Brown is nine points away from becoming the second Penguin (along with Dorothy Bowers) to reach 2,000 for her career. She has two games left.
“I’m assuming that she’s going to have 49 on Monday,” Boldon said, laughing. “I don’t know. That kid’s awesome.”