By Christina Sainovich
Youngstown State University women’s basketball team has faced difficulties throughout the season, causing it to have an up-and-down year. This last weekend, the Penguins closed a two-game homestand with two losses.
YSU hosted the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Jan. 24. Despite a tough effort and forcing their conference foe into double overtime, the Penguins fell short, 70-63.
Bright spots for the team were junior Chelsea Olson and redshirt freshman Taylor Petit. Both players recorded double-doubles in the game. Olson scored 15 points while grabbing 13 rebounds, and Petit added 11 points and 10 boards.
Just two days later, the women looked again to defend the Beeghly Center against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While the team looked to bounce back from Thursday’s loss, it couldn’t quite get the job done. Milwaukee proved to be too tough a task for Olson and company, as the final score was 74-62 in favor of the Panthers.
Petit again made her presence known, leading YSU in scoring with 10 points, alongside Gabby Lupardus, who also put up 10.
Freshman center Jen Wendler got fouls in both games, which coach John Barnes said was a factor in the losses.
“Jen [Wendler] got in foul trouble right away in the last two games. So one, we have to play small, and two, that’s just another player out in terms of minutes,” Barnes said.
The team is playing with a very shallow bench due to injuries. Petit has recently returned from injury. Barnes and his team are anxiously awaiting the return of key players McKenah Peters and Emma VanZanten.
Depleted numbers means more playing time for the healthy players, which Barnes says is a disadvantage to the Penguins.
“All of our players are playing quite a few minutes as it is because of our numbers, but then when we get in foul trouble, it even increases their numbers,” Barnes said.
Fouling early in games was one of the mistakes YSU made in its back-to-back losses over the weekend. Olson said they need to work on the mental aspect of the game to be successful.
“Just the mental aspect of things. … Against Green Bay we had a lot of mental breakdowns late and throughout the whole game,” Olson said.
YSU takes on the University of Illinois-Chicago on the road Thursday, and Saturday the team plays at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Olson said sticking to the basics is key to winning these next games.
“I think the biggest thing is just containing and doing our job defensively,” Olson said, “And then being offensively just being aggressive like we’ve been in the past.”
The team is currently sitting at 11-9 overall and 4-5 in conference play. YSU is currently fifth in the Horizon League and will look to move up the ranks in the coming weeks.
Looking past this weekend, the Penguins will play five of their last seven games in the Beeghly Center.