By Brian Yauger
Beaten on the boards, Youngstown State University fell to the Wright State University Raiders 70-65.
“We need to shoot the ball better, there’s no question about that,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “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.”
The aggression from the Raiders proved to be too much for YSU, at least early on. They picked up the pace in the second half, matching their intensity blow-for-blow. The Penguins battled back bringing it within a score on multiple occasions in the second half and even taking the lead for a brief moment in the fourth quarter.
“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,” senior forward Sarah Cash said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win in the end, so we need to be proud of that.”
Despite only shooting 3-13 from the field, Symone Simmons had arguably the most impact on either side of the court, bringing down 21 rebounds.
“I thought Symone Simmons willed their team to win,” Barnes said. “21 rebounds, 11 offensive. If we found a way to keep her off the boards we probably could have found a way to win.”
Alison Smolinski led the Penguins on the boards, bringing down six rebounds.
The second quarter proved to be the death knell for YSU. Wright State outscored the Penguins 22-14 in the quarter. The Raiders went on an 8-0 run that pulled their lead away to 10.
YSU came out hot in the third quarter however, outscoring the Raiders 21-15.
Cash lit that flame scoring eight of her 12 points in the quarter. Chelsea Olson fed the Cash Machine, assisting Cash twice in the third.
Mary Dunn led the Penguins scoring 18 points. Dunn was not only effective, but efficient, shooting 62 percent from the field.
“Our main goal was to get the ball inside as much as possible,” Barnes said. “They started doubling in there which created a little bit of a problem but Sarah ended up with 12 and Mary with 18 so they both did a pretty solid job.”
Smolinski would join elite company when she reached the 1000-point total. She is the 21st player for the program to reach the mark
McKenah Peters also scored 12 points during the game in her 36 minutes.
Cash would wind up in foul trouble, fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
YSU closes the season against Cleveland State University on Saturday March 2. The Penguins host a Horizon League Tournament game on Wednesday, March 6. against a to be determined opponent.
There’s a chance the Penguins will take on Wright State once again and if that’s the case, Dunn is ready for round three.
“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.”