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4th-quarter rally lifts women

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes McKenah Peters, right, drives inside while being guarded by Maxine Moore of Detroit Mercy on Friday night.

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team has been overcoming adversity all season. It was more of the same on Friday night at the Beeghly Center.

Abbie McDowell made a bucket with about 5 minutes remaining to put Detroit Mercy ahead by four points. YSU then went on a 12-2 run the rest of the way to pull out a come-from-behind, 72-66, win over the Titans.

The Penguins shot 15 percent from the floor in the third quarter, heading into the final 10 minutes. The struggle was real for YSU (13-13, 6-9 Horizon League). Something had to be done.

“We had to lock in, get a stop and then we could convert and attack on defense,” said Ny’Dajah Jackson, who had nine of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. “We just attacked, be aggressive and found an open player, and get a stop when we needed a stop.”

YSU’s men’s basketball team, which has a huge game against Northern Kentucky this afternoon at 2 back here at the Beeghly Center, was out as a team Friday in the front row of the general admission section. They were hanging over the railing behind the south basket, banging the metal signs below and chanting, “defens.”

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Youngstown State’s Emma VanZanten, left, celebrates after making a basket while being fouled in the second half. Friday evening was the first time VanZanten played after suffering a foot injury Nov. 20 at Akron.

For the YSU women, the second half was much different than the first 20 minutes.

“Detroit put on a show in the first half,” said McKenah Peters, who had 11 points. “They couldn’t miss. They played their best basketball and did what they could in trying to beat us.

“In the second half, we fed off the crowd. Their energy was huge. The men’s basketball team was all here, all cheering us on. All of our normal fans were here. It was huge and I appreciate them all coming out supporting us. Feeding off of their energy made us play even better.”

Detroit Mercy (3-23, 3-12) was led by Sylare Starks with a game-high 19 points.

YSU coach John Barnes said the game felt like an earlier loss at last-place UIC.

“We struggled to guard them. Sylare is a heckuva player,” Barnes said.”We gave her way too many looks. It was one of those games where we had to struggle, struggle, struggle and then find a way.

“I don’t know how many lay-ups we missed. It was one of those days where nothing was going in. It felt like UIC again.”

Detroit Mercy looked nothing like a team with three wins coming into the game. Their coach, Bernard Scott, was an assistant coach for YSU about a decade ago.

The Titans shot around 50 percent from the floor and 60 percent from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes as they looked like contenders. It was one of the best halves the Titans has had in some time.

“I thought we executed well offensively,” Scott said. “We did well defensively to make them miss their initial shots, but we didn’t do well boxing out. That’s what kind of kept them in the game, along with some of our turnovers.

“I was impressed of how we played in that first half with the effort.”

It was the fourth quarter when YSU came through, outscoring the Titans 22-15 in the final 10 minutes.

Chelsea Olson had 13 points, while Maddie Schires added 12 for the YSU women.

“To be honest the men’s team, coming out playing like they did, coach (Jerrod) Calhoun having those guys ready to battle the top team in the conference and winning in big fashion got a lot of excitement through our team,” Barnes said. “We felt we had to uphold our part of it.

“Now we’re 2-0 as a group. Now we’ve got two left we’ve got to finish off. Hopefully we’ll have a big fan base for the men’s game (today) and our game on Sunday.”

The YSU women host Oakland Sunday at 1 p.m.

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