The injury bug has been flying around Beeghly Center in the early stages of this season, mainly with the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team.
As the Penguins prepare for their third game this year against Northern Kentucky University on Wednesday, they are preparing to do so with nine healthy players out of 14 on the roster. They may have a 10th in uniform depending on senior Melissa Thompson’s status.
“It’s tough. It’s hard to practice,” head coach John Barnes said. “We really don’t have enough players to practice with at this point. Everyone’s in different positions and trying to get used to that, but the players are staying positive. They’re continuing to work hard.”
Thompson started in the season opener on Nov. 9, but did not play on Wednesday against the University at Buffalo, which YSU (0-2) lost 72-65. Instead, sophomore Ashley Lawson started in her place. Lawson scored a career-high 10 points and was named the Player of the Game by Radio Talent.
Lawson was redshirted as a freshman two years ago because she tore her left shoulder in two places. The injury also held her to only 10 games last season. She is listed as a probable starter for Wednesday based off of the last game.
“It really is difficult, especially [because] the game is not a short game,” Lawson said regarding the team’s injuries. “It’s very long, and it’s very up pace. We get tired, but we have to try to get through it, and that’s what we’re trying to do at practice.”
With all the problems during the first two losses, two positives have been the inside game. Junior Heidi Schlegel, a Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League selection, has scored 50 points in two games. Junior Latisha Walker is averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
“[Latisha] has been doing a nice job. She’s really been rebounding well,” Barnes said. “She’s taken some of the load of scoring. You know, it’s just tough because those two, Heidi and Tish, have been playing very well on the inside scoring quite a few points. And that’s with not shooting well at all from the outside.”
The YSU team that loved shooting 3-pointers under former coach Bob Boldon last year has taken a turn for the worse so far, shooting 11.1 percent from beyond the 3-point line this season.
“I go back and watch our films,” Barnes said. “We’re getting open looks; they’re just not going down. But once we start putting that outside game together and making those shots, they’re [Schlegel and Walker] even going to be that much more affective.”
Wednesday’s contest against Northern Kentucky begins at 5:15 p.m. The game is the first of a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team playing Thiel College. The Penguins began last season 4-0 before falling at NKU, 66-64, on Nov. 27. NKU scored four points in the final two seconds to steal
“We definitely want revenge on them,” Lawson said. “They’re supposed to be a team that’s just like us, so I think it’s going to be a