Benjamin seals Penguins’ comeback win
Benjamin seals Penguins’ comeback
By Tom Williams
With the game tied and time running down, John Barnes could not have been more thrilled to see his senior point guard Indiya Benjamin take charge.
“That was a big-time play,” the Youngstown State women’s basketball coach said of Benjamin’s baseline basket with 25 seconds to go in a 54-51 victory over Northern Kentucky on Thursday night. “Shot clock was running down, tie ball game, she makes a great move to the baseline ... and knocked it in.”
Twenty-two seconds later, Benjamin made a free throw and then stole the Norse’s final inbounds pass to seal the victory.
The 5-foot-6 Benjamin said she needed space as a Norse defender closed in.
“I had to get her a little out of my face, she was taller than me, so I decided to take a step back,” Benjamin said. “It kind of worked, the ball went in so I’ll take it.”
The end of the game was a complete reversal from the beginning when the Penguins struggled. When the Penguins watch the recording, they will be squirming during the opening sequence.
Molly Glick sizzled at the start, hitting three 3-pointers plus another basket as the Norse (5-15, 3-6 Horizon League) raced to an 18-7 lead.
“We made some mental mistakes, which we will see on film,” freshman guard Chelsea Olson said.
During a timeout, Barnes said the message was clear: his Penguins (8-12, 4-5) “needed to settle down. Coach [Andy] Crane made a suggestion to put on a little more pressure.”
“We kind of took them out of their rhythm,” Barnes said. “Once they got out of their rhythm, we got back into our regular defense and they weren’t able to get [their offense] going again.”
The Penguins closed the first quarter with a 10-3 run powered by five points by Mary Dunn. They dominated in the second quarter, limiting the Norse to one basket during the first six minutes.
“We really stepped up on defense,” Olson said.
Dunn’s basket with 2:02 remaining put YSU ahead, 26-24, but Northern Kentucky’s Kailey Coffey responded with two baskets for a 28-27 halftime lead.
The Penguins surged in the third quarter as Olson’s 3-pointer and three free throws gave YSU a 35-28 lead.
But they were unable to pull away and the game seesawed. Nikki Arbansas hit a 3-pointer for YSU’s 45-43 lead going to the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, the Norse again struggled from the field, making just one basket in the first 4:23 of the quarter.
But the Penguins were unable to put the game out of reach. Taryn Taugher tied the game for the Norse with a top-of-the-key 3-pointer, then she scored from underneath for a 51-49 lead.
Sarah Cash tied the game with 1:23 remaining to set up Benjamin’s heroics.
“I’m happy with our defensive performance,” Barnes said. “[We] held them to 33.9 percent from the field, can’t ask for too much more than that.”
Olson scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds and two steals. Cash contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Dunn scored nine points, all in the first half.
Glick led the Norse with 18 points including four 3-pointers. Taugher finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Grayson Rose, a graduate of Garrettsville Garfield, played seven minutes for the Norse and made a free throw.