By Brian Yauger
With one game left in the regular season, the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team is gearing up for tournament time.
YSU is coming off of a two-game road skid in their trip to southern Ohio, falling to Northern Kentucky University and Wright State University. The Penguins have the whole week to prepare for Saturday’s game against Cleveland State University. That doesn’t mean they’re going to change their formula up.
“[We’re going to do] the same thing we’ve been doing,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “Wright State is obviously the best team in the conference and despite not shooting very well, we still played them really tough and still had a chance to win down the stretch. The NKU game, the same thing — we didn’t shoot very well and we had to make a comeback to have a chance, and they made a big shot to win the game. They were tough but we competed and fought and gave ourselves a chance in both games.”
The Penguins dropped the game to Northern Kentucky 65-62 off of a Molly Glick buzzer-beater, but mental mistakes put them in that place to begin with.
“If we box out and find a way to get the ball we’re the ones who have the shot at the end,” Barnes told The Vindicator after the game. “Mental stuff all game cost us the game. Not anything else.”
On Sunday, the Penguins took on the Raiders in Dayton. YSU shot poorly, but still managed to stay close, falling 70-65.
“We need to shoot the ball better, there’s no question about that,” Barnes said after the loss. “Shooting that bad we still had a chance to win. Defensively, we had that lull which could’ve been the difference. We pride ourselves on our defense. If we defend really well and rebound really well, even if we have off-shooting nights, we still have a chance to win the game.”
Symone Simmons brought down 21 rebounds during the game and absolutely dominated in the paint. A result of coming out soft according to senior forward Sarah Cash.
“I think we came out a little soft and that just gave them momentum when they started getting offensive rebounds and we just didn’t stop them,” Cash said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win in the end, so we need to be proud of that.”
Barnes touched on the shooting and gave a silver lining regarding the cold streak.
“The shooting’s not going to stay cold,” Barnes said. “It might be a good thing. Cool off a little bit now and once the tournament hits we get hot at the right time and make a run.”
The Penguins host a Horizon League Tournament game on March 6 against an opponent still to be determined.
For the Penguins to win the Horizon League tournament, odds are they’ll have to take on Wright State again. If that’s the case, Dunn is ready for the challenge.
“I’m disappointed because I know we could have beaten that team, but we have to learn from it,” Dunn said. “I think we’re going to play them again so we really have to get prepared. We still have Cleveland State and then the tournament.”