Turnovers sap YSU women’s momentum
By Brian Dzenis
Youngstown State’s defense put Kent State in a corner at Beeghly Center, but the Golden Flashes dug their way out to spoil the Penguins’ home opener, 55-44, in a non-conference women’s basketball game Tuesday night.
YSU (0-2) had held KSU to just two points in the first quarter and had a double-digit lead in the second, but couldn’t maintain the advantage.
“We needed to take care of the ball and we had 15 turnovers. Instead of being up by two, we could have been up 12 if you cut that in half,” coach John Barnes said, referencing a 20-18 halftime lead.
Both sides had an ugly first half with a combined 27 turnovers between them. Both teams went 0 for 10 from 3-point range before the Penguins’ Indiya Benjamin made the game’s first 3 in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
YSU built a 14-4 lead in the second quarter, only to fall behind as the Penguins’ turnover issues persisted. A 7-0 run from Kent State tied the game at 17, but McKenah Peters’ 3 put the Penguins back in the lead.
Benjamin came out of the first-half break with a quick bucket and a 3 to put the Penguins ahead 25-18, but the Golden Flashes went on a 20-7 run through the end of the third quarter.
“We were playing good defense the whole entire game, but we kind of relaxed a little bit and then we gave up some baskets,” Benjamin said. “You can’t do that. We have to come out after halftime and keep it going the entire time. You can’t relax and have a letdown.”
An Alison Smolinski 3 at the buzzer got the Penguins within six points heading into the fourth quarter. The closest YSU came to tying the game was a four-point deficit with 8:18 left to play.
“That third quarter got away from us a little bit and we didn’t have any firepower to catch up. I mean we really didn’t,” Barnes said. “We just couldn’t make shots. If you can’t make shots, it’s hard to win.”
Benjamin and Cash were the Penguins’ top scorers with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Benjamin reached 1,000 points for her career with a layup in the final 10 seconds.
“It’s nice. A lot of players don’t get to do that in their college careers,” Benjamin said.
Freshman Anne Secrest was YSU’s top rebounder with six rebounds to go with five points. The team shot 39 percent from the floor, including going 3-for-13 from 3-point range.
Kent State, which is coached by Canfield native Todd Starkey, had three players finish in double figures. Alexa Gordon led the Flashes with 17 points and seven rebounds, McKenna Stephens scored 16 points and Jordan Korinek scored 10 points.