Loyola rambles past YSU in Horizon tourney
By Joe Catullo
green bay, Wis.
The crackling of Subway bags, the crunching of potato chips and the engine revving blended in Youngstown State’s Kobussen bus after Friday’s Horizon League semifinal matchup with Loyola.
Twenty-four hours prior, excitement and laughter from the Penguins made it nearly impossible to hear anything else. A 72-45 defeat quickly changed everybody’s mood.
“To be honest, I don’t know what happened, and I’m included in this,” Liz Hornberger said. “I don’t know where my team was tonight. This is not the team that we’ve had the whole season.”
The Penguins (22-9) never found a rhythm, especially early on in the first half. The Ramblers (17-14) capitalized on YSU’s nine first-half turnovers, shooting 45.2 percent from the field.
“After the first five minutes of the game, everyone was just looking around at each other, thinking, 'Why are we playing this way?'" Hornberger said. "And no one tried to change it."
Loyola led 32-17 at halftime with Simone Law and Taylor Johnson accounting for 28 points. Law, who averages 17.6 points per contest, finished with a game-high 29.
“I thought she made some tough shots, but I don’t think we did a good job of guarding her,” coach Bob Boldon said. “We gave her some easy ones early, and [she] started feeling good. We were pretty sloppy with our double teams and didn’t do a great job of preventing her from touching it as we’ve done in the past.”
While YSU committed 16 turnovers overall and shot 25 percent from the 3-point line, another lost factor was Horizon League player of the year Brandi Brown.
She finished with 11 points (two in the first half) as the Ramblers double-teamed and contested her all night.
Loyola coach Eric Simpson said he didn’t expect that kind of performance from Brown.
“We didn’t expect to really stop her,” he said. “We were just hoping we could keep her under 30, 40 [points] the way she’s been going recently.”
While YSU’s conference season ended, it has a chance of playing in a postseason tournament such as the WNIT. Boldon said he’ll evaluate his team’s status and may not accept an invitation.
“If we’re not going to play hard, then we’re not going to play in the NIT or any other tournament,” he said. “That’s not the way basketball is supposed to be played. We’ll only accept a bid in a tournament is if this team is committed to playing hard and playing together.”
Hornberger said she only wants to participate if the Penguins do not play the same way they did Friday night.
“I don’t want this to end this way,” she said. “I don’t want to have to sit for the next five months with this loss in my head. I don’t want to have Brandi go out like that. The way we played tonight is the way we looked my freshman year. We just threw [away] everything we did this season by the way we played tonight.”