By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team played one of its most complete games in weeks during the Penguins’ 67-48 win over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
YSU’s defense stepped up against the Retrievers and the Penguins forced UMBC into tough contested shots.
UMBC (18-14) took advantage of YSU turnovers in the first quarter. The Penguins allowed 10 points off turnovers and held a 19-12 lead in the opening quarter. But YSU turned things around in the second quarter.
YSU (21-12) outscored the Retrievers 19-7 in the second quarter — mostly due to the shooting of guard Nikki Arbanas. She scored nine of her 18 points in the second and allowed YSU to take a 31-26 lead into halftime.
“I think 3-point shooters get excited whenever the other team plays zone because you’re getting wide-open shots,” Arbanas said. “But I thought the post did a great job of see there was a lot of people on them and kicking it out — in the first half especially — and I think that was key to the game.”
UMBC got its offense going again in the third quarter, but YSU guard Kelsea Newman came off the bench and contributed eight points in the third quarter. Newman shot 3-4 from the field in the third and finished 15 points and 10 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double.
The Penguins took a 49-41 lead into the final quarter and never gave up the lead.
“Defensively we’ve been stepping it up. To hold them to seven points in the fourth quarter was big. I think the kids are playing hard and having fun,” YSU head coach John Barnes said. “And I think it’s kind of a fun style to play against because we haven’t seen it before. When you mover the ball, attack the paint, kick it out then you give yourself a great chance at a good shot.”
Even though the Penguins walked away with the win on Saturday, YSU point guard Indiya Benjamin suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Benjamin missed some time during the regular season after spraining her ankle against Wright State University.
“She came down off the 3-pointer and landed on the other kid’s foot. She’s gonna be with the trainer after the game, and then we’re gonna find out from there,” Barnes said.
Jenna Hirsch finished the game at point guard for the Penguins. Hirsch filled in for Benjamin when she went down earlier this season. Hirsch finished the game with seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
“I thought Jenna did a good job when Indiya was in and once Indiya wen out. Pressure went on her and she did a good job,” Barnes said.
The Penguins advanced to the Women’s Basketball Invitational semifinals. They will play the winner of #1 seed University of Louisiana at Layfayette and #4 seed Stetson University.
If Louisiana wins, the Penguins will travel to Louisiana for their semifinal game, but if the Steton upsets the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Penguins will host another game.
UMBC 48, YSU 67
UMBC (18-14) — Taylor McCarley 5-3-16, Pandora Wilson 4-1-9, Laura Castaldo 2-2-8, Capree Garner 3-0-7, Emily Russo 1-2-5, Amanda Hagaman 1-1-3. Totals: 16-9-48.
YSU (21-12) — Nikki Arbanas 6-0-18, Kelsea Newman 5-1-15, Indiya Benjamin 3-0-9, Janae Jackson 2-4-8, Sarah Cash 3-1-7, Jenna Hirsch 3-0-7, Alison Smolinski 1-0-3. Totals: 23-6-67.
UMBC 19 7 15 7 — 48
YSU 12 19 18 18 — 67
3-point field goals: UMBC 7 (McCarley 3, Castaldo 2, Garner, Russo); YSU 15 (Arbanas 6, Newman 4, Benjamin 3, Hirsch, Smolinski).
Rebounds: UMBC 35 (Hagaman 9, Wilson 6, Castaldo 5, Garner 5, McCarley 5, Russo 2, Team 3); YSU 38 (Newman 10, Jackson 8, Cash 7, Benjamin 4, Hirsch 4, Arbanas 2, Smolinski, Team 2).
Assists: UMBC 7 (McCarley 4, Garner2, Castaldo); YSU 19 (Benjamin 6, Hirsch 4, Cash 3, Arbanas 2, Jackson 2, Newman, Smolinski).