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Women’s team finally gets started

The Youngstown State women’s basketball team makes its long-awaited season debut today as the Penguins play today and Saturday in doubleheaders with the men’s team at the Beeghly Center.

The women play host to Wright State with both games starting at 1 p.m. The men will face Green Bay beginning at 4 each day. All four games will be broadcast live on WKBN 570-AM.

The women have battled through two separate pauses in all basketball activities — one beginning on Nov. 19 and the other on Dec. 10 — after positive COVID-19 tests within the program’s Tier 1 bubble which includes student-athletes, coaches, managers and limited support staff.

“We were able to practice a couple of days before Christmas, without some players, but we were back full-go basically on the 26th,” women’s coach John Barnes said. “I think we’ve had two or three (full practices with everyone available).

“The players have a really good attitude. The coaches are going in every day just doing the best we can in the situation that we’re in. I think everyone is struggling with, I think, different aspects of what’s going on. We’re just trying to make the most of it.”

The Penguins return five players who each made at least 21 starts during a 13-17 season in 2019-20. YSU started 11-7 before a string of injuries contributed to a 2-10 finish.

Wright State is 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the Horizon League.

The Penguin men are 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Horizon, compared to Green Bay’s marks of 0-8 and 0-4. YSU is coming off two losses last weekend at Cleveland State when Darius Quisenberry did not play because of injuries, most notably a nagging ankle injury.

Both games will be broadcast on WKBN 570-AM. Today’s game will be aired on ESPN-plus and Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

The Phoenix were swept last weekend by Wright State. Amari Davis leads Green Bay in scoring at 17.4 points per game, Josh Jefferson averages 15.3 and PJ Pipes is at 12.6.

YSU coach Jarrod Calhoun said in midweek that Quisenberry’s status still was questionable.

“Obviously we’re not happy losing two games,” Calhoun said about the sweep at CSU. “I told the guys this. The reality of it is we practiced five or six times in November, we’ve had injuries that we certainly weren’t expecting, we have eight out of 10 games on the road and our defense hasn’t been very good. Those are four big factors that play into our 1-3 start (in the Horizon League).

“The nice part of our group is we don’t have an excuse mentality. It’s kind of a next-man-up mentality and I look for our guys to respond this week.”

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