Penguins Match Largest Victory Ever Over Kent State, 68-49

Sarah Cash (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
Sarah Cash (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team showcased its defense and found its shooting touch in the final 22 minutes to beat Kent State 68-49 on Tuesday evening at the M.A.C. Center.

The Penguins used a 24-7 run to turn a 25-21 deficit into a 45-32 advantage with 13:26 remaining, and YSU led by double digits for the final 11 minutes.

YSU's 19-point margin of victory tied for its largest in the 40-game series with Kent State. Youngstown State is now 2-0, and Kent State is 0-2.

The Penguins, who scored 83 points in their season-opening win over Niagara on Saturday, finally got their offensive firepower going in the final minutes of the first half. Kelsea Newman hit two 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the period, and YSU went on to make eight of its final 13 attempts from distance.

Newman's pair of triples started that 24-7 run, and they helped YSU take a 31-27 lead into halftime. The Penguins then scored nine of the first 12 points in the second half to take its first double-digit lead of the game on a Sarah Cash bucket. After a Kent State field goal at the 14:09 mark, another 3 by Newman and a jumper by Indiya Benjamin capped the big run.

Kent State worked the lead down to nine, 45-36, with 11:27 remaining, but the Penguins held the nearby opponent to just two points over the next eight minutes. Heidi Schlegel's 3-pointer with 2:57 left put YSU up by 21, and her lay-up just over a minute later gave the Penguins their largest lead of the night at 64-41.

Kent State starting guard Larissa Lurken hit a 3-pointer on KSU's final possession to get the margin down to 19.

Schlegel finished with a game-high 15 points, and Benjamin posted a career-high 14. Latisha Walker and Newman both finished with nine, and YSU shot 58.3 percent in the second half to finish at 50 percent for the game.

Lurken and Krista White had 11 points to lead Kent State.

The Penguins led by as many as six in the first half after Walker put them ahead 11-5, and Benjamin's triple gave YSU a 14-9 advantage with 11:03 left in the first half.

Walker was charged with her second foul with 9:09 left, and Kent State's frontcourt started to take advantage. The three forwards combined for the Golden Flashes' first 17 points, and Montia Johnson's bucket underneath gave Kent State a 17-15 lead at the 6:39 mark.

Cash, who played eight minutes in the first half with Walker in foul trouble, tied the game at 17 with a jumper at the 6:14 mark. That bucket stopped a field goal drought of nearly five minutes for YSU. Lurken hit two 3s for Kent State to put the Golden Flashes up 23-19, and the lead was 25-21 before YSU's late run to end the period.

Newman hit two 3s in the final stretch, including one after two offensive rebounds, and Nikki Arbanas made two free throws with 1.9 seconds left for the final points.

Youngstown State will play at Radford on Saturday at 2 p.m. A live link to iHeartMedia's online audio broadcast will be available on YSUsports.com.