The Youngstown State women's basketball team closed out regulation on a 12-4 run and went 33-of-35 from the free throw line to beat Robert Morris 73-65 in overtime on Wednesday evening at the Sewall Center.
Jenna Hirsch scored eight points during that 12-4 stretch, and Youngstown State found a way to win despite trailing for more than 38 minutes in regulation.
Hirsch hit two free throws with 3:44 left in overtime to give YSU a 63-61 advantage, its first lead of the game, and the Penguins stayed ahead the rest of the contest.
Youngstown State improves to 9-0, and Robert Morris, the preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference, dropped to 2-7.
The Penguins were in a hole from the beginning as Robert Morris scored the first 12 points of the game. YSU got within five points on a Latisha Walker layup with 5:31 left in the first half, but Robert Morris scored the next seven points to take its largest lead of the half at 29-15 with 3:47 left.
The Colonials led by 13 at halftime, and they maintained a double-digit lead until Heidi Schlegel hit two free throws with 12:19 left. Robert Morris held the Penguins off and upped its lead to as many as 15 when Anna Niki Stamolamprou hit a 3 at the 9:22 mark.
YSU scored the next nine points to get within six points, and it got within six three more times before Hirsch caught fire. The sophomore guard hit 3s on back-to-back possessions to trim the deficit to four with 2:54 left, and she offset a Stamolamprou bucket with another jumper to make the score 61-57. Schlegel went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes to tie the score at 61, and Robert Morris missed twice on game-winning attempts in the final three seconds.
Hirsch's free throws with 3:44 left in overtime gave YSU its first lead, and a bucket by Schlegel put the Penguins up 65-61 with 2:24 to go in overtime. Indiya Benjamin countered two RMU free throws with a bucket to push the lead back to four, and that's as close as the Colonials would get.
Youngstown State was 16-for-17 from the free-throw line in the second half and 8-for-8 in overtime. The Penguins made their final 18 attempts from the charity stripe to offset a season-low 29.5 percent shooting from the field.
YSU's 33 free throws tied for the fourth-most in a game in program history, and the 94.3 percent effort from the line was the fifth-best mark in a game. Schlegel went 14-of-15, and her 14 makes tied for the third-most in a game by an individual.
Robert Morris built its 13-point halftime lead largely by going 7-of-15 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, but the Colonials were 2-for-16 in the second half and overtime. RMU shot 26 percent in the final 25 minutes.
Schlegel finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Walker also had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Benjamin finished with 13 points, and Hirsch had 10.
The Penguins will host their Second Annual Kids "Field Trip" Basketball Game, presented by Chick-Fil-A of Boardman, on Friday against Ohio Valley. Tipoff against the Fighting Scots will be at 11 a.m.