By Marc Weems
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team looked to avenge their loss to the University of Akron last season.
But YSU lost to Akron 76-74 in overtime with Akron’s Alex Ricketts scoring 20 points in the game.
YSU point guard Indiya Benjamin scored the first eight out of YSU’s 10 early first quarter points.
In a fast-paced first quarter, YSU led Akron 21-14 with forward Natalie Myers joining Benjamin as she had seven first-quarter points. Benjamin and Myers combined to score 17 points in the first.
“When Indiya is in the game, she is scoring. When she’s out, she doesn’t score,” YSU head coach John Barnes said. “She fouled out with a couple minutes left. She could have been the difference in the game, but it is what it is.”
In the second quarter, YSU slowed down the pace and widened the gap with Akron. But with 2:35 left in the second quarter, YSU was forced to take a timeout as Akron shrunk the lead to 27-25 after the Zips went on a 9-2 run from the 6:04 mark.
As the Penguins’ pace slowed, so did the scoring. YSU led at halftime 31-29 after a Kelley Wright floater went in as time expired.
YSU was outrebounded 43-34 and 13-9 on the offensive boards.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on [rebounding] in practice,” YSU forward Mary Dunn said. “We can’t let other teams get second-chance opportunities; we need those opportunities.”
Akron got those opportunities to start the second half with a 12-4 run to take a 41-33 lead with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter. That run was led by Alex Ricketts, who scored four points in that run.
The scoring action went back and forth in the third quarter as YSU went on its own 10-2 run to tie the score at 43 with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
With 4:15 left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 59. Both teams played super scrappy on both ends as they went back and forth.
Later, at the 2:15 point of the fourth, Benjamin fouled out after scoring 21 points with two assists.
With 1:25 left, Ricketts hit two free throws to tie the game at 62. Akron went to the foul line more than YSU. The Zips attempted 37 free throws to YSU’s 14.
“We were not as focused in some places. We focused more on two players and let the other players kind of go off,” Dunn said. “We were a little out of sync, and when we realized that, it was too late to catch up.”
Dunn scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed five rebounds. Barnes said that Dunn has just gotten better every day and every game while still learning a great deal.
Akron controlled the ball for most of the last minute but were unable to score, even with Ricketts grabbing key rebounds for the Zips.
After some confusion, whether there was a shot clock violation or if the ball went out of bounds, the referees and head coaches decided to take the game to overtime instead.
Barnes said that the reason the game went to overtime is because the ball was still in play and the clock stopped when it shouldn’t have.
In overtime, Ricketts got Akron ahead as she scored five points to extend their lead to 72-68 with 1:49 left in overtime.
YSU’s next game is at Kent State on Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.