YSU women edge Milwaukee in overtime
By DAN HINER
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team suffered a one-point loss when the Penguins traveled to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in January. The Penguins lost on a last-second shot, and the YSU players wanted payback.
On Thursday, the Penguins beat the Panthers 86-85 in overtime at Beeghly Center — their seventh win in eight games.
YSU forward Sarah Cash made the Penguins’ only two overtime field goals, including the eventually game-winning layup, with 22.1 seconds left.
“To get this win, we definitely owed them one,” YSU’s Chelsea Olson said.
YSU head coach John Barnes said he couldn’t remember what play they had drawn up for Cash’s layup. He said guard Indiya Benjamin was given the freedom to create a play and found Cash in the post.
Olson and Cash took over the game in overtime. The duo combined to score 10 of the Penguins’ 12 overtime points.
Olson led the Penguins (13-13, 9-6 Horizon League) with 20 points and Cash finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The YSU offense became more aggressive in overtime and built a 84-80 lead after shooting 8 of 10 from the free-throw line.
Milwaukee (17-9, 8-6) killed the Penguins on the boards the first time the two teams played. The Panthers grabbed 17 offensive rebounds back in January. But the Penguins focused on boxing out and limited Milwaukee to only 12 offensive boards.
“I think down the stretch, overtime, we did a good job of boxing out,” Barnes said. “Free throws, obviously 83 percent — that’s huge.
“It seems like the last seven, eight times we played Milwaukee, it comes down to the wire every time. Fortunately we were able to come out on top of this one.”
Neither team led by more than five points in the second half and overtime.
In the first half, the Penguins were shooting at a potential record-breaking pace. YSU, which averaged 8.5 3s entering the night, made seven 3-pointers.
“Coach Barnes told us at the beginning of the game to look for our shot, attack, be aggressive, and whenever we’re open, to knock down our shot,” Benjamin said. “Everybody was looking for their open basket and we were able to knock some down.”
Benjamin listened to Barnes early. She scored seven of YSU’s first 12 points and finished with 16 points and seven assists.
The Penguins held a slim lead throughout the first half thanks to their defense.
Milwaukee shot 10 of 23 from the field and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half.
“We wanted to come out and be aggressive and tried to set the tone of the game,” Barnes said. “Honestly, it was so close and back-and-forth the whole game. Fortunately we were able to make some plays down the stretch.”
Benjamin really wanted to beat the Panthers. Milwaukee’s Jamie Reit scored the game winner in the last game. She was Benjamin’s responsibility.
“When we played Milwaukee last time, [Reit] knocked down the bunny. That was kind of my man,” Benjamin said. “I just wanted to beat them ever since then. That really put a damper on me. I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”