By Jeff Brown
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team improved to 2-0 Tuesday night with a 68-49 win against Kent State in the team’s first road game. The win was YSU’s first in Kent since 1996, and the 19-point margin of victory ties YSU’s largest ever against the Golden Flashes.
Kent State led 17-15 with 6:33 left in the first half, but YSU would generate a 10-2 run in the final two minutes of the half to take a 31-27 halftime lead. The run was sparked by sophomore forward Kelsea Newman who came off the bench to drain two 3-point shots during the run. Newman finished with 9 points.
“I think our biggest thing was mental toughness coming into the game,” Newman said. “I think coming into the second half we focused a lot more and were ready to go, and I think that’s what brought the run.”
Head coach John Barnes applauded Newman’s performance in the first half. Barnes believes Newman’s ability to hit clutch shots allowed YSU to stay in the game.
“Kelsea really saved us in the end of that first half. I mean she came in and made two crucial threes,” he said. “I think in our minds for the amount of mistakes we made in the first half to have the lead gave us a little confidence.”
YSU continued the offensive success into the second half, going on a 7-2 run—led by two 3-pointers from sophomore guard Jenna Hirsch.
“We had quite a few glaring mental errors in the first half. We pride ourselves on being mentally tough and not making those kind of error,” Barnes said.
It was an all-around effort from YSU, as nine women registered points for the Penguins. Heidi Schlegel led the way with 15 points.
“We know everyone’s going to wanna stop Heidi,” Barnes said. “ That’s going to leave other people open and they got to have confidence to knock those shots down or attack the basket when they get those opportunities.
The Penguins relied heavily on 3-pointers as they shot a total of 26 throughout the game. The first half was a struggle from beyond the arch (4-15), but the Penguins found a rhythm in the second half knocking down six of their 11 three’s.
“Our game plan was to pound it inside,” Newman said. “ After we tried doing that it got more shots open for the outside.”
Perhaps the most crucial part of the victory was being able to slow down Kent State in the paint. The Golden Flashes outscored YSU 16-10 in the paint during the first half, but the Penguins were much improved in the second outscoring Kent 16-9.
“I would like to keep them out of the paint a little bit more, but they’re known for driving to the basket and getting the ball inside, not that much from the outside,” Barnes said. “Tish is long and Sarah Cash is long too so it’s hard to make shots with a 6’2’’ long post player in your face.”
The Penguins travel to Radford Virginia for their next game on Saturday, November 22 against the Radford University Highlanders.