The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team is no longer in control of their own destiny.
After losing to the University of Illinois at Chicago Thursday night, 73-65, the Penguins (13-13, 9-4 Horizon League) awaited the results of an overtime battle between Wright State University and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“Sometimes you get lucky and other teams help you out, and we’re hoping for that case tonight,” YSU head coach John Barnes said while the Wright State-Green Bay game was still in progress.
A Wright State victory would have kept YSU alone at the top of the Horizon League, but Green Bay claimed sole possession of the conference’s top spot with its victory.
Ball control, whether it was scoring runs, turnovers or rebounds, ultimately proved to be YSU’s biggest weakness. After going on a 9-0 run early in the second half that gave the Penguins their only lead of the second half, YSU let the Flames (20-7, 9-5) sprint on an 11-2 run.
“When we went on our run, I think we were moving the ball really well and getting to the rim. [On UIC’s run] we were playing good defense and they were just getting points in the paint whenever they wanted,” junior forward Heidi Schlegel said.
UIC finished the game with 15 offensive rebounds and scored 21 points off of YSU’s 20 turnovers.
“We have to take care of the ball. That’s the bottom line. That’s 20 more possessions that they get, so that’s a definitely a big key, and rebounding. We’ve struggled with that all year, and we’ll just have to keep working on it,” Schlegel said.
Schlegel finished with a team-high 17 points and collected six rebounds. Latisha Walker scored 14 and tallied a team-high seven rebounds. No other Penguin finished in double figures.
For the Flames, Katie Hannemann finished with a game-high 24 points. Rachel Story scored 16 while Ruvanna Campbell tallied 12 and collected a game-high 10 rebounds. Terri Bender finished with 11 points and seven steals.
“We have to play really, really smart and I don’t think we did that tonight, obviously with 20 turnovers,” Barnes said. “We just have to be smart, we have to be a little tougher, and we’re going to try to bounce back and play a tough Detroit team.”
Now tied for second place in the Horizon League, the Penguins play at the University of Detroit Mercy on Saturday. Having just one day off isn’t a problem for Barnes.
“The shorter the break, the less time we have to dwell on it…Tonight, hopefully they do dwell on it a little bit and it hurts a little bit and they come out with a little fire on Saturday,” he said.
After Detroit, YSU squares off with Wright State on Wednesday before concluding its season on Saturday against Cleveland State University. If Green Bay wins its final three games, they will clinch the No. 1 seed. If YSU wins out and the Phoenix lose at least one game, the Penguins will be the best team.