The Penguins were under a minute away from upsetting the No. 11-ranked team in the nation. That minute proved to be costly.
The Youngstown State University women’s basketball team lost a nine-point lead late in the second half, ultimately falling to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in overtime, 77-72.
“The good thing about this game was we played hard the whole 40 minutes,” said senior guard Kenya Middlebrooks. “That is something that we struggle with, where we have our moments where we don’t play hard, and that’s where teams begin to score on us a lot, so I think we did a good job. We did a good job rebounding the ball and hitting shots.”
Middlebrooks led the Penguins (10-16, 4-11) on Senior Day with 21 points, connecting on five 3-pointers. Junior forward Brandi Brown had 21 and 19 rebounds.
“I thought our kids showed a lot of composure,” said head women’s basketball coach Bob Boldon. “You just look down the stat sheets and the number of different contributions we got from different kids, from rebounding to taking care of the basketball to making big shots for us. I thought it was a heck of a team effort.”
YSU led 64-55 with 59 seconds in the game before the Phoenix went on an 11-2 run to force overtime.
Middlebrooks said the last minute of the game was in part due to defensive breakdowns.
“Defensive breakdowns we didn’t have the other 39 minutes of the game,” Middlebrooks said. “We just broke down the last minute.”
Boldon agreed with Middlebrooks, and he said there were other contributing factors.
“I thought we didn’t do a real good job handling the basketball and made some poor decisions,” Boldon said. “They made some tough shots. We missed a couple free throws down the stretch; they didn’t miss any. They capitalized on every mistake we made.”
Junior guard Adrian Ritchie led the Phoenix with 26 points. Senior forward Julie Wojta had 18 and 15 rebounds.
Middlebrooks said this game was much different than last season, when Green Bay beat the Penguins by 59.
“I guess you can say it is a progression, because we weren’t like this last year or two, three years ago,” Middlebrooks said. “We would have probably gave up and they would have probably blew us out again. We should have beat them. We really should have beat them.”
Boldon said he might be able to appreciate what his team did in this game — just not yet.
“I imagine at some point,” Boldon said. “It is hard to appreciate what you did when you didn’t win. Others may have different opinions; our kids may have different takes. My general opinion is to win when we play, and today we didn’t do that.”
The Penguins head to the stretch of the season with three straight road games. Then, they will prepare for the Horizon League tournament.
Boldon said he is encouraged by how his team has played against the upper echelon of the Horizon League.
“I thought we played well against Wright State, I thought we played well against Detroit and I thought we played well against Green Bay,” Boldon said. “Those are the three best teams in this league by far. For 40 minutes, our point differential with those teams has been pretty good. … But in a one game format, I think our kids have some confidence that we can compete.”