Through a flock of Penguins Wednesday night in Beeghly Center, an unlikely hero emerged for the Youngstown State University women’s basketball.
Karen Flagg had a memorable night, scoring a career-high 26 points in YSU’s 80-71 victory over the University of Detroit Mercy (3-17, 0-7 in the Horizon League). Flagg entered the contest averaging 8.8 points per game. Her previous career high was 17 against Valparaiso University on Jan. 9.
“Karen did what a senior should do tonight,” coach John Barnes said.
Even when the Penguins (10-9, 6-0) struggled to open the game, Flagg kept their heads above water.
Detroit led, 18-6 (two 3-pointers from Flagg), in less than seven minutes, including a 12-0 scoring run. Kelsea Newman, averaging 2.9 points per game going into Wednesday, nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to help cut the deficit.
The Titans quickly answered with an 8-0 scoring run, building their lead to 36-22 with six minutes remaining in the first half. YSU matched Detroit’s total with a 14-0 run, tying the game at the 1:30 mark. The Titans scored the half’s final four points and led, 40-36, at halftime.
“It was a tough start,” Barnes said. “We just couldn’t get anything to go.”
Flagg finished the half with 16 points. She also made three 3-pointers. She entered the game with eight on the season. YSU shot just 28.6 percent from the field but 47.1 beyond the 3-point line. The Titans shot 48.4 percent.
In the first 5:57 of the second half, the Penguins made one shot on 11 attempts, including Jenna Hirsch’s 1-7 performance. Detroit led, 50-45.
YSU found a little groove later on with a mini 6-0 run. The Penguins’ struggled trying to tie the game, though, and trailed 59-55 at the 9:05 mark.
YSU finally broke through the ice and led, 69-64, at the 4:12 mark. The Penguins trailed by three points before going on an 8-0 run and never looked back, though the Titans gave them a scare.
Trailing 76-71 at the 1:06 mark, Detroit’s Senee Shearer stole the Penguins’ pass but couldn’t finish. Jenna Hirsch then stole a pass after Detroit collected the offensive rebound. Heidi Schlegel made a layup that sealed the victory.
Behind Flagg was Schlegel with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. She began with four first-half points — all on free throws — and did not make one shot on eight attempts. Hirsch also scored 16 while Newman had 11.
For the Titans, Shearer scored 17 points. Haleigh Ristovski finished with 15 points while Tayelor McCalister had 14.
The Penguins, who own a six-game winning streak, travel to face Cleveland State University on Saturday.