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YSU pulls away from Detroit Mercy for 78-59 win

Staff photo / Joel Whetzel Youngstown State’s Chelsea Olson goes up for a layup Friday night against Detroit Mercy during a 78-59 victory. She finished with a near triple-double, tallying 12 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds.

YOUNGSTOWN — It was a matter of withstanding Detroit Mercy’s early surge.

After jumping out to an early 10-point lead, Youngstown State quickly found itself back in a tight matchup with the visiting Titans. But a late second-quarter run of their own and a mostly dominant second half allowed the Penguins to pull away for a 78-59 Horizon League win on Friday night at the Beeghly Center. The victory completes a season sweep of Detroit Mercy for the Penguins.

YSU (18-2, 12-1) led 16-6 midway through the first before UDM (0-18, 0-11) rallied back to tie the game at 20 early in the second. From there, YSU maintained a narrow edge over the visiting Titans until an 11-2 run to end the half.

Detroit Mercy never got back to within single digits from that point.

“Basketball is always a game of runs. We just try to limit (the Detroit Mercy run),” YSU guard Chelsea Olson said. “So when they went on that little run, it was time for us to go on an even bigger one, kind of just press the gas a little bit.”

Olson was part of a balanced night of scoring for YSU, as she and four others finished in double figures. Malia Magestro led that effort with 15 points, while Lilly Ritz and Paige Shy, who returned from an ankle injury, added 14 points. Olson and Megan Callahan each scored 12, while Mady Aulbach tacked on eight points.

Olson also spent the second half chasing a triple-double, as she finished the first two quarters with eight points, eight rebounds and eight assists. However, she came up just shy of the mark — which she’s seemingly done throughout her time at YSU — and finished with 12 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

While she’s more than happy to do her part, no matter what it is, to help the Penguins, Olson did joke that she’d sometimes rather not come close to a triple-double than miss it by just one rebound or assist.

She added, “But it’s still a good number and still helps our team.”

Much of YSU’s first-half offense came by way of attacking the rim. Though the Penguins finished with nine 3-pointers, they sank just one in the first quarter.

“We knew they were going to pressure a lot, which kind of opens driving lanes, especially when we can shoot the ball as well as we do,” Olson noted.

UDM managed to keep pace early on through its work on the offensive glass. The Titans finished with 14 offensive rebounds.

But YSU had an answer, as the Penguin defense held Detroit Mercy to a 25-for-65 (38.5 percent) mark from the field and scored 22 points off 20 Titan turnovers.

“That’s our goal — keep (opponents shooting) in the 30s, keep the three-point percentage in the low 20s if we can,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “I think Mady Aulbach played really hard, worked hard. They all did and took some charges, got them in foul trouble, and then we were able to build up the lead and just kind of hold onto it.”

Barnes did credit Monique Pruitt, who scored 19 points for UDM. Brandi Washington scored 13, while Irene Murua had 11 and Lucia Fleta Robles scored 10.

Now winners of three straight, the Penguins will shift their focus to a Sunday contest with Oakland. YSU defeated the Golden Grizzlies (9-9, 7-4) on the road in their first Horizon League road trip of the season in November, 79-68. Oakland was upset by Robert Morris on Friday, 73-65.

Barnes is expecting a tough matchup in that 1 p.m. contest, regardless of previous results.

“Oakland is very good, long, athletic. They can pressure,” he said. “They got one of the best guards in the league; Kahlaijah Dean can go off for 20 or 30 on any given night. … They’re hard to guard. It’s going to take a big effort from us.”

jwhetzel@tribtoday.com

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