Smolinski breaks Arbanas’ record
By Greg Gulas
Youngstown State’s Alison Smolinski readily admits that when she was younger and practiced shooting with her father in their backyard, her shot was something to be desired.
After canning her sixth triple in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against IUPUI, she’ll now be remembered as the school’s most prolific three-point shooter.
Smolinski had a game-high 22 points, Mary Dunn added 17 and Sarah Cash 13 as the Penguins defeated the Jaguars, 70-52 in Horizon league action at the Beeghly Center.
With 210 career 3’s, she set the new mark in 93 games while passing former teammate Nikki Arbanas, who canned 209 buckets from beyond the arc in 97 contests from 2014-18.
Her record-setting shot came from the right corner of the court off a Melinda Trimmer assist, never touching the iron while falling straight through the net.
“I don’t really know how many 3’s I’m making at the time, I just really want to win the game so I’m kind of shooting the ball when I’m open,” Smolinski said. “No. 42 [Sydney Hall] did a really good job as she was on me the whole game. She’s a great player and it’s a great team we just beat.”
The Jaguars (8-7, 2-2: Horizon League) reeled off the first seven points of the game and held the Penguins (12-3, 4-0) scoreless until Mary Dunn’s bucket in the lane at the 3:58 mark.’
Dunn then reeled off seven of the Penguins’ next nine points as YSU pulled to within 12-11 heading to the second period.
If Smolinski wasn’t feeling her shot in the opening frame, the second quarter more than opened everyone’s eyes in her record book assault as she canned three of her six triples in the quarter, helping YSU outscore the Jaguars 22-15 in the quarter as they opened a 33-27 advantage at the intermission.
“After the first quarter it was more of just us moving the ball,” Smolinski added. “In the beginning, both teams had players in foul trouble, so it was kind of just holding our own and I felt we did a good job of who we had out there in the first half. All four quarters we did a great job. This was probably our strongest game yet.”
The Penguins reeled off the first nine points of the second half to open a 42-27 lead with Cash hitting two buckets and a triple to pace the way.
A stingy Penguin defense held the Jaguars to just seven points in the period as they opened a 49-34 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Smolinski’s fourth triple of the game just 58 seconds into the quarter gave YSU a 49-34 lead and when she nailed her fifth from beyond the arc at the 6:54 mark, she tied Arbanas’ record and gave the Penguins a 59-45 lead.
The record breaking bucket extended their lead to 65-45, the largest of the game.
“Mentally, I sometimes overthink so I can’t think about it because that’s when problems come,” Smolinski stated. “Mary [Dunn] is always the first to come over to me and jump on me and she said did you hear Nikki Arbanas up there. I’m like, Mary, we’re playing the game. Let’s get the win first.”
Coming out of a time-out, the scoreboard lit up the gym with her record-setting moment.
“It was a pretty special feeling and I’ll probably never forget that,” Smolinski noted.
Penguins head coach John Barnes was pleased with his team’s resolve.
“It was a big win for the team. IUPUI is a very good team, very talented and well-coached,” Barnes said. “They’re going to be fighting for a league championship so to be able to play like we did at home in front of a great crowd is a good feeling.
“I was thankful for all the crowd that showed up as they were loud down the stretch. It was a lot of fun.”
Barnes has now witnessed two career three-point record-setting events in as many seasons.
“I thought Alison played just a great game,” Barnes added. “They were all over her, bumping and grabbing her which is a part of the game. They were trying to do whatever they can to take her out of her game and she didn’t let that affect her at all.
“If she had any space she was knocking it down. In the second half she just kind of shot us to victory, no pun intended.”
Despite their slow start, YSU finished 26 of 54 (48.1 percent) from the field while holding the Jaguars to 16 of 56 (28.6).
Macee Williams and Holly Hoppingarner each had nine points for IUPUI, which failed to place a player in double figures.
YSU held a 35-31 rebound advantage with the Penguins’ Chelsea Olson hauling down a game-high 11 caroms.