Olson earns Horizon honor


By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Chelsea Olson has done her part to get Youngstown State off a four-game skid, earning Horizon League honors and a black eye for her efforts.

“A girl drove — I don’t really know what happened — but it showed up,” Olson said of the shiner near her left eye.

It’s easier to remember how she become the Horizon League’s Freshman of the Week. She scored a career-high 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a 66-52 win against Cleveland State. Twenty of those 26 points came in the second half.

“Chelsea’s very capable of doing things like that. It’s tough as a freshman to really step up and be that aggressive and want to take over, but we’ve been encouraging her to do that,” head coach John Barnes said. “She did that against Cleveland State. I expect her to build on that and keep going.”

Olson has started for the Penguins (7-12, 3-5) in their last six games. The team has leaned on her more with the team suffering additional injuries at the guard position.

Nikki Arbanas joined teammate Alison Smolinski among the injured. She suffered a concussion during Jan. 13 game against Milwaukee. She played 34 minutes in the next game, a 73-50 defeat to Wright State, before sitting out against the Vikings.

“The symptoms didn’t really show up right away. I basically leave that to the trainers and if she’s not feeling right, then she gets evaluated,” Barnes said. “It could be more precautionary than anything else. It’s in that gray area and we’re going to err on the safe side.”

Barnes said it’s possible Arbanas comes back for Thursday’s home game against Northern Kentucky. Arbanas averages 7.7 points per game and shoots 35 percent from three.

Smolinski remains out indefinitely with a fractured left foot.

The Penguins are home from a trip to Wisconsin that yielded no wins against two of the top three teams in the Horizon League — No. 22 Green Bay and Milwaukee — but the Penguins were able to have a decent showing, losing in single digits to the Phoenix and Milwaukee need a late shot to best the Penguins, 62-61.

“It was really encouraging, but we still have to clean up the mental mistakes we made during those games and hopefully we’ll have a different outcome,” Olson said.

Northern Kentucky (5-14, 3-5) is closer eighth in the League, just a spot below the Penguins in the standings, but Barnes isn’t selling the Norse short.

“[NKU] beat Green Bay and they’ve taken Wright State to overtime. They show signs of playing really good at times,” Barnes said. “They’re going to throw a lot at us.”

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