By Marc Weems
Near the end of a tough four-game road trip, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team lost three straight on the road and four straight overall.
Youngstown State (6-12, 2-5 Horizon League) has played well against the top teams in the conference on the road.
“That was a long trip but we are able to get some rest now, and the kids back in school with their routines,” YSU Head Coach John Barnes said. “We need to work on the fundamentals and basics that you don’t work on when you are on the road.”
YSU started the trip at the No. 23 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (15-2, 5-1 HL) with a 65-56 loss. Indiya Benjamin finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“I felt like we showed a lot of progress and matured a lot over this trip. We had Green Bay down to a five-point game with under four minutes to go. IUPUI lost by like 25 points to Green Bay,” Barnes said. “They are giving up like 44 points a game and we scored 56 with a 30-6 free throw advantage for them.”
YSU’s next adventure was a short drive to play the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Penguins lost on a buzzer-beater by Milwaukee (13-5, 4-2). The Panthers’ Jamie Reit picked up a loose ball and buried a 15-foot jumper to get a 62-61 win in a super winnable game for YSU.
“We battled like crazy in the Milwaukee game. We had a chance to win it and it goes off of a player’s head to the girl who hits it at the buzzer. We played hard and gave everything we had,” Barnes said.
Sarah Cash finished with a season-high 28 points with two rebounds.
The next game wasn’t close as Wright State University trounced YSU, 73-50. Sarah Cash finished with 12 points and four rebounds. The Raiders’ Chelsea Welch dropped 23 points.
“Wright State handled us pretty well. There are no excuses. We needed to play harder and better but they handled us pretty well,” Barnes said.
A problem continuing to plague YSU has been rebounding. During the three games on the road, YSU was outrebounded by an average of 14.7 per game.
Another issue has been paint scoring as YSU was outscored in the paint on average by 12 points.
“We played Green Bay, IUPUI, Wright State and Milwaukee back-to-back-to-back-to-back. We knew that was going to be a rough trip. Those are top teams in the conference and Cleveland State is in that mix of top teams. It’s going to be another challenge,” Barnes said.
YSU now turns its attention to the best scoring duo in the Horizon League with Cleveland State’s Ashanti Abshaw and Khayla Livingston. The two combine to average 34.6 points per game while hitting 4.9 3-pointers per game. Cleveland State (12-6, 4-3) won its last game against Northern Kentucky University, 70-65.
“Those two players are outstanding. Abshaw is going to be up for player of the year in the conference. Livingston is going to be First-Team All-League. We are going to do our best to defend them both collectively,” Barnes said.
YSU’s remaining road game is against Cleveland State University on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cleveland before it plays NKU on Jan. 25 at home.