YSU falls to Cincinnati in WNIT opener
Bearcats’ 20-8 run in the second quarter ends Penguins’ season
By NATHAN BEIGHLE
Youngstown State seniors Melinda Trimmer, Sarah Cash and Alison Smolinski did all they could, but the Penguins saw their season come to an end with a 76-62 loss to Cincinnati Thursday night in the opening round of the WNIT.
The Penguins close out the season at 22-10 with the third WNIT appearance in school history. Trimmer, a West Branch graduate, tied Smolinski for the team-high in points with 17. Cash added 12 points while played in a record-setting 135th game as a Penguin.
“I gave it everything I had,” Trimmer said.
Just five minutes into the second quarter, Cincinnati took a seven-point lead off a 10-1 run. The Bearcats (22-10) outscored the Penguins 20-8 to go into halftime up 35-25 at Fifth Third Arena.
In that stretch, Smolinski led the team with eight. The team also got six points from Cash. The Penguins’ three seniors combined for 20 of the team’s 25 first-half points.
Following the half, the Penguins came out with their backs against the wall.
They cut the deficit to just nine after a pair of free throws from Trimmer. A few minutes later, Cincinnati’s Nikira Goings hit a 3-pointer to put them up by 12 before being blindsided by a screen that momentarily sent her out of the game.
YSU went on an 8-0 run thanks to tenacious defense from the senior-led Penguins. Smolinski capped the quarter with a 3-pointer to get YSU within nine points. The North Royalton native made five 3-pointers in defeat.
“I wish I would’ve made more of those 3s,” Smolinski said. “There were times where there were huge shots that didn’t fall. Like I said, it doesn’t mean much to me if we didn’t get the W.” The Penguins opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to trail by just three points, but YSU got no closer.
“I think that stretch really wore us out,” YSU coach John Barnes said.
The Bearcats’ lead ballooned back to double figures where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
“We couldn’t really stop them,” Barnes said.
Andeija Puckett came off the bench to score 16 points for the Bearcats. Antoinette Miller also scored 16 for Cincinnati.
UC also held a 41-30 edge on the glass, and it turned 13 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.
The Bearcats will meet the winner of today’s first-round game between Minnesota and Northern Iowa in the tournament’s second round.