Slowing IUPUI ace is mission
By Brian Dzenis
Youngstown State’s women’s basketball team had the right idea against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis the last time the two sides saw each other.
The plan was to stop the Jaguars’ leading scorer and make the other players beat the Penguins.
On Jan. 6, the Penguins held Jaguars top guard Danielle Lawrence to four points, but the Sydney Hall made six threes in a career-high 24-point performance to beat the Penguins, 65-43.
The two teams will meet again on Thursday in Indianapolis and the plan remains the same, it just requires better execution.
“We just have to do a better job containing all of their players and not letting them have big games,” Penguins coach John Barnes said Monday. “We have to stay focused on doing what we’ve been doing that has us on a little bit of a streak here.”
YSU (10-13, 6-6 Horizon League) is in a good spot midway through a four-game road trip. The Penguins have won four out of their last five contests, which includes winning three straight road games for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
“We’ve just been playing really well as a team and we’ve really been focusing on defense and rebounding, which is something we’ve been slacking in earlier,” forward Mary Dunn said.
Dunn has been averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the team’s last two games — which come with her in the starting lineup. She put up a career-high 24 points during the team’s 86-76 win against Oakland last Thursday.
Dunn returned to the starting lineup because leading-scorer Sarah Cash is dealing with an ankle injury. The Lordstown graduate missed the Oakland game and played limited minutes in the team’s 72-52 win against Detroit Mercy.
Starting guard Alison Smolinski still hasn’t returned to action after getting out of her walking boot last week. She is recovering from a fractured left foot. Her coach said he doesn’t expect her to play this week and isn’t sure on a timetable for her return.
NAZ SPEAKS UP
Last week was a missed opportunity for the men’s basketball team. The Penguins (6-19, 4-8 Horizon) got nothing from a two-game homestand last week, which is part of an extended malaise where they’ve lost nine of their last 10 contests.
“It’s beyond frustration because we can have two great practices before a game or even a good shootaround the day of the game and then we go to the game and it’s like we take five steps back,” forward Naz Bohannon said. “We started conference play 3-0 and then we lost [four] games in a row.
“We came into last week with a chance to 6-6 and get into the top half of the conference and then we give two away. It’s hard.”
Bohannon is one of three underclassman in the starting lineup and along with fellow freshman starter Garrett Covington, is a hit in coach Jerrod Calhoun’s first recruiting class. He’s fifth in the Horizon League in rebounding with 7.8 a game, but he’s not done there. The Lorain native is trying to step into a leadership role.
“People tell me ‘you’re a freshman. It’s all right. We put you in shoes that are a little too big for you.’ The shoes came to me and they have to fit,” Bohannon said. “It’s my job to get the team to go. It’s my job to speak, no matter who it is or what grade their in.
“Some of the older guys are like ‘he’s a freshman. What is he to tell me anything? What has he accomplished?’” he said. “I get more leeway if I score more or if we win and I play better, it’s easier to tell guys to do things. I try to say regardless of how I play, I want guys to play to their potential.”