Destiny Awaits

Senior Liz Hornberger (21) looks to pass the ball to teammate Melissa Thompson (23) against Valparaiso University on Feb. 15 at Beeghly Center. The Penguins head into Thursday’s home contest against the University of Illinois at Chicago four victories away from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League.

Senior Liz Hornberger (21) looks to pass the ball to teammate Melissa Thompson (23) against Valparaiso University on Feb. 15 at Beeghly Center. The Penguins head into Thursday’s home contest against the University of Illinois at Chicago four victories away from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Horizon League.

It was Feb. 5, 2011. The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team played at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Phoenix destroyed YSU, 84-25.

This was the day Liz Hornberger, a freshman at the time, began her checklist. One of Hornberger’s goals since that game was to defeat the Phoenix at Green Bay.

“I didn’t play very much freshman year,” Hornberger said. “During that game, I got in within six minutes of the first half. That’s saying something. We didn’t score for the first ten minutes of that game.

“I remember going to [Monica Touvelle] after shooting one of our free throws and saying to [Monica] ‘I never ever want to lose like this ever again.’ Right after winning a Horizon League title and going to March Madness, beating Green Bay at Green Bay was right there.”

Hornberger checked off one of the three remaining items on her list in her senior season. The Penguins defeated Green Bay, 72-63, on Sunday, sweeping the regular-season schedule against the Phoenix for the first time in program history.

“Right after the game, I went right up and hugged Monica,” Hornberger said.

It’s also the second time in the last 16 years a conference foe swept Green Bay during the regular season.

“We didn’t have anything left after the game was over,” coach John Barnes said. “That’s what we needed to do to get the win.”

Next on the list is a conference title. The Penguins (13-12, 9-3 Horizon League) have a chance to reach it at Beeghly Center. If YSU wins its final four games — beginning with the University of Illinois at Chicago on Thursday — the Penguins will host the Horizon League Tournament for the first time in school history.

“I think it’s kind of in the back of all of our minds, but it’s such a long road ahead of us,” freshman Jenna Hirsch said. “We just aren’t really focusing on that right now. We’re just focusing on the next few games.”

Before defeating Green Bay, the Penguins began their weekend with an 81-69 victory at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday. Heidi Schlegel was named the Horizon League Player of the Week and scored her 1,000th career point in Green Bay.

After UIC on Thursday, the Penguins will play at the University of Detroit Mercy on Saturday in what could be their final road game. YSU then faces Wright State University on Wednesday and Cleveland State University on March 8, both at home.

YSU is in a virtual tie for first place along with Green Bay and Wright State, obviously owning the advantage. Green Bay and Wright State will play on Thursday.

“We’ve been kind of in this battle all year of winning games in a row and maybe losing some in a row,” Barnes said. “You’re only as good as your next game.”

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