By Brian Yauger
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team remained undefeated after a 90-31 win over the NAIA Carlow University Celtics. YSU is now 4-0 to start the year since the 2015-2016 when the Penguins started 6-0.
The first quarter was a relatively close start as the quarter ended at 13-4, with some shaky play. It was quickly corrected in the second quarter with a 23 to four run. The second quarter played key for the Penguins, where they scored 25 points and shot 55.6 percent from the field.
“The first part of the first quarter was definitely lax,” Penguins coach John Barnes said. “It was a little bit of a letdown after the Pitt game. As the second quarter went on I thought we played sharper, and throughout the rest of the game.”
The game proved to be a good game to let the reserves take more minutes, with starters Sarah Cash and Chelsea Olson only playing for six and 13 minutes, respectively.
All nine players for the Penguins scored at least six points while the bench combined for 46 points, including the night’s leading scorer Madison Mallory.
“We take every team seriously,” Mallory said. “We just wanted to go out there and do what we’re supposed to do, get it done, and play as a team, and scoring 15 points was really nice. I know my mom’s going to be really happy.”
Alison Smolinski scored 14 points, enough for second on the team, and shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
“Starting off we weren’t as sharp as Coach Barnes would’ve liked but this was a bit of a confidence booster,” Smolinski said. “We had fun out there and played as a team. It was really good. We weren’t going to take them lightly, we had to prepare the same as any other game, and like I said, it’s going to be a confidence booster going into the bigger teams.”
Rebounding continues to be one of YSU’s strongest assets, with the Penguins doubling up the Celtics in rebounds 57 to 26. The Penguins have outrebounded every opponent so far this season.
“We’ve been doing a pretty good job rebounding this year as a whole,” Barnes said. “We’ve outrebounded every team we’ve played this year including Pitt. It’s been a big focus for us this offseason so I thought the players did a good job again tonight.”
Freshman forward Amara Chikwe got some key development time. She played 32 minutes and led the team in rebounds with 11. Giving her that playing time was a goal for Barnes heading into the game.
““The big thing is we got a lot of people minutes,” Barnes said. “It was a key game for Deleah [Gibson] and Madison and Amara. They need minutes, they need court time minutes and sometimes that’s not always available in other games, so for them to play a lot and do well does a lot for their confidence, and it’s big for us.”
There was an aura on the court where you could tell that the Penguins were enjoying themselves. The scoreboard had something to do with that.
“Winning is fun,” Barnes said. “We’ve been fortunate to win some games this year and that’s what it’s all about, that’s why they play the game, and I think they had fun tonight.”
The Penguins head on the road to Kent, to take on the Kent State University Golden Flashes on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before returning home to face Yale University on Nov. 24 at Beeghly Center.
Here’s tonight’s game thread from the Beeghley Center:
— Brian Yauger (@_brianyauger) November 16, 2018