YSU women earn first win for Barnes
By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State guard Liz Hornberger is often called a coach in training because, like coaches, she understands the importance of positioning, effort, maturity, leadership and all the other intangibles that go into winning games.
But basketball coaches are also notoriously paranoid, and after an 0-2 start, she proved she’s got that down, too.
“I had a major breakdown on Friday,” Hornberger said after Wednesday’s 67-53 victory over Northern Kentucky at Beeghly Center. “I was like, ‘I do not want to be 0-30. That’s not how I want to end my basketball career.’”
Really? After two games she was worried about going 0-30?
“It’s been a fear of mine for a very long time,” she said. “It just goes through your mind sometimes when you lose the first two games. It was like, ‘I know we’re better than this, but are we ever going to grow up?’ And I think we did that tonight.”
Speaking of coaches, Penguins coach John Barnes earned both his first win at YSU and his first as a Division I head coach after winning 156 games at Division II Michigan Tech from 2003-07. The Penguins announced the milestone in the locker room afterward “and everybody cheered real loud,” Hornberger said. “Then he just kind of walked away. I don’t know if he was going to cry or something.”
He didn’t — he had to do a radio interview — and when a reporter asked him why he didn’t at least get a Gatorade bath, he joked, “I feel like I already had one, I’ve been sweating so much.”
Like they did in their first two games, the Penguins jumped out to an early lead, making seven of their first eight 3-pointers to go ahead 25-7.
(When asked what he was thinking during that run, Barnes said, “Keep shooting.”)
Unlike the previous two games, YSU stayed out of foul trouble, allowing the Penguins to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
“I think we showed a lot of toughness today,” said Hornberger, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. “We played a whole 40 minutes and I don’t know how many times we did that my first three years.”
Junior Heidi Schlegel led the Penguins (1-2) with 22 points and six rebounds — her third straight 20-point game — and Karen Flagg added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Melody Doss scored 15 points for the Norse (2-2), almost 11 below her average. Northern Kentucky shot just 19 of 59 from the field, including 2 of 24 (8.3 percent) from behind the arc as YSU avenged last year’s loss.
NKU earned its first Division I victory in school history last season against the Penguins, who entered that game 4-0.
“For me and a couple of the older players, we came into this game feeling, ‘We know they weren’t better than us last year and we’re going to prove it now,’” Hornberger said. “We had a chip on our shoulder. I think we need to play like that all the time.”