By Joe Scalzo
If you want to know the secret to how Youngstown State senior Melissa Thompson keeps playing on two grouchy knees, you don’t need to brace yourself.
You need to tape yourself.
While senior Karen Flagg wears a bulky plastic knee brace, and several other teammates use elastic sleeves, Thompson has turned to hot-pink tape, which crisscrosses both knees.
“They’re calling it the voodoo tape,” she said. “I honestly don’t know why it works, but it works. It’s working miracles.”
Thompson’s knees kept her out of four early games, but she’s seen steady playing time since the Horizon League schedule began, helping the Penguins (10-10, 6-1) jump out to their best conference start in 13 years.
She’s coming off the two best games of her season, scoring eight points in a win over Detroit and a season-best 13 in a loss at Cleveland State on Saturday. All 13 of those points came in the first half as the Penguins took a 48-40 lead.
But the Vikings outscored YSU 44-32 in the second half to hand the Penguins their first conference loss.
“It was a wake-up call,” Thompson said. “We can’t get complacent. Every time we step on the court, we have to step out there with the mentality that we have to work as hard as we can and continue to do the little things because that’s what got us in the situation we’re in now.”
The Penguins play at Wright State at noon today in a matchup of the Horizon League’s two best teams.
The Raiders (16-6, 5-2) feature the league’s preseason player of the year in Kim Demmings, who is averaging 21.5 points per game, best in the conference.
Ivory James (17.0 points per game) and Tay’ler Mingo (13.5) are also averaging double figures for an offense scoring 80.1 points per game — six higher than anyone else.
“They have so many weapons,” YSU coach John Barnes. “They’re obviously a top team in the league and you’re going to their floor. It’s a high-powered offense, so it’s going to be a big challenge.”