Olson, Penguin defense bury undefeated Akron
By Brian Dzenis
Chelsea Olson looked like a freshman in a good way.
The sophomore guard’s 22-point outing and an outstanding defensive effort in the third quarter paced the Penguins to a 72-61 victory against the Akron Zips Wednesday night in the Beeghly Center.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid as Olson bounced back from a six-point, 2-of-10 shooting performance in last Friday’s 58-56 loss to Yale.
“She’s been struggling and when you have some games where you’re not shooting as well as you like, you start thinking about it,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “She didn’t let it bother her and I think we all saw the old Chelsea — last year’s Chelsea — tonight.”
Olson — who switched from a front-court to back-court role this year — did not miss a shot in the first half, going 4 for 4 from the floor while making two 3-pointers and all eight of her free-throw attempts. Her first miss was on a 3-point attempt late in the third quarter. She finished the contest going 5 for 9 from the field
Neither Olson nor her coach realized she was perfect in the first half.
“I was just being more confident in myself,” Olson said. “I’ve been struggling from the field this season so I was keeping my confidence up by knowing I can hit the shots.”
West Branch graduate Melinda Trimmer matched a career-best in scoring with 14 points while going 4 for 8 from 3-point range. Mary Dunn was a rebound short of a double double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sarah Cash added 11 points.
“The thing I needed to improve on for this game was attacking and feeding the post. I knew going into the game that I was going to look for that,” Trimmer said. “Seeing the post players make some shots is contagious and it makes me want to hit shots too.”
Olson made her third 3 just before a media timeout at 4:58 in the third. After the break, Trimmer hit back-to-back 3s to give YSU its first double-digit lead of the game. She sparked a run in which the Penguins scored 18 straight points to close out the third quarter. By the time Akron’s Caitlin Vari hit a 2-point jumper with 8:11 left to play in the game, YSU had built a 21-point lead.
“We kept pushing and believing in our shots. We were feeding the posts and getting inside out looks,” Trimmer said. “We were getting good looks by getting the ball inside and outside. We just had really good ball movement.”
YSU (5-2) did a good job containing Akron leading scorer Megan Sefcik, an Austintown Fitch graduate. She was scoreless until the final three minutes of the first half when she knocked down two free throws. She finished with seven points on 2 for 8 shooting.
Sefcik entered the game averaging 21 points. Barnes credited McKenah Peters for keeping her in check.
“She had a tough job, Sefcik is a heck of a player,” Barnes said. “I thought McKenah worked really hard and gave everything she had.”
Haleigh Reinoehl led Akron (3-1) with 18 points and Shayna Harmon added 10.