Turnovers hurt YSU women in season-opening loss

By Greg Gulas



Danielle Garven scored 18 points, Kalista Walters added a double-double and Yacine Diop had 14 points as the Pitt women’s basketball team beat Youngstown State 66-58 in the season opener for both teams Friday night at the Petersen Events Center.

Indiya Benjamin led YSU with 16 points, Nikki Arbanas added 15 and Sarah Cash, who missed all but seven games a season ago with a knee injury, added 12 points and hauled in four rebounds in just 12 minutes.

“We came out aggressive tonight and our defense wasn’t bad, but we allowed too many transition points and committed too many turnovers,” Benjamin said. “We have a lot of new players that are playing together for the very first time and we’re just looking to build some chemistry.”

YSU finished with 20 turnovers, which led to 16 points for Pitt.

The Penguins raced to an early 19-10 first-quarter lead, but the Panthers (1-0) held YSU (0-1) to just six points in the second period and opened a 28-25 halftime advantage.

Benjamin came into the game needing 28 points to become the 19th player in YSU women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points. It looked like she’d reach the milestone early as she scored YSU’s first eight points of the game for an early 8-2 advantage.

Two buckets by Cash, Benjamin’s 12th point of the period and an Arbanas triple with 56 seconds remaining gave them a nine-point margin at the quarter.

The Panthers cut the deficit to 21-16 at 7:11 of the second frame, but Mary Dunn’s first hoop of the season extended the YSU lead to 23-16.

Pitt then went on a 12-4 run to end the half, keyed by Garven’s five points and four more by Kalista Walters to forge a three-point lead at intermission.

“It was all about turnovers tonight. We take care of the ball and we give ourselves a chance to win,” YSU head coach John Barnes said. “Indiya took over right away and put the team on her shoulders. She carried us. Sarah did a great job as well for not being able to practice much. We’re going to be very careful with her.”

YSU outshot the Panthers in the opening half, canning 11 of 27 shots to the Panthers’ 13 of 33, but Pitt took advantage of 11 YSU miscues as the Panthers cashed in for 11 points, also holding a 14-10 scoring margin in the paint.

In the third period, a bucket by Benjamin and three-point play by Cash knotted the game at 30 and when Arbanas added a triple at 5:27, it gave YSU its last lead, 37-35.

Allison Smolinski’s 3-pointer with 2:29 remaining in the quarter cut the deficit to 42-41, but the Panthers scored five of the last six points for a 46-42 lead heading to the final period.

Garven’s bucket in the lane with 3:08 remaining gave Pitt its largest lead of the game at 61-47, but YSU went on an 11-5 run to end the game. The Penguins fell to the Panthers for the third straight time.

“It’s going to take some time, but I felt really good out there,” Cash said. “The knee was tight yesterday, but good tonight. Turnovers hurt us, but the effort was definitely there.”

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