More games could await YSU
By Brian Dzenis
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team isn’t getting ready for the offseason just yet.
Following Monday’s 66-45 loss in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals to Green Bay, the Penguins believe there is another tournament in their sights.
“We’re not thinking too much about [next year] right now, we’re thinking about finishing strong,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “I believe that we’ll be in a postseason tournament. Our RPI is similar — maybe better — than what we had when we went to the WNIT two years ago.
“Hopefully we can get these kids some tournament action.”
That belief led to the Penguins not being down on themselves after the loss. Senior Indiya Benjamin, the program’s all-time leader in games played, 3-pointers and assists, isn’t ready to reflect on her career just yet.
“I haven’t settled down and taken it all in because I’m very confident that we’re going to play in a postseason,” Benjamin said. “I’m still locked in with trying to get as much wins as possible.”
At 16-15 with an 11-7 mark in the Horizon League, YSU has an RPI of 145 and plays in a conference that has an RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences. An at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is out of the question, but a bid to the WNIT or WBI isn’t impossible.
In the big picture, the Penguins are playing their best basketball. After starting conference play 3-6, the Penguins went 7-1 in February to earn a No. 5 seed in the tournament.
“As a team we just got together and realized what was happening wasn’t right and we needed to change it and we just started working together very well and we never gave up,” Penguins forward Mary Dunn said.
“Even in this game, we were still working hard to the end. When we’re together, we can do a lot and we’ve realized that.”
They earned praise from opponents in Detroit. Milwaukee coach Kyle Rechlicz called YSU “the hottest team in the Horizon League.” Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth noticed improvement from the Penguins throughout the season.
“I told John after the game where they were at the beginning of the year to where they are right now is just an unbelievable jump with all those young players coming back,” Borseth said. “There’s a lot of promise with that program.”