Second WNIT Berth Highlights 2014-15 Women's Basketball Season

Latisha Walker (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Latisha Walker (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team had the 10th 20-win season in program history and advanced to the Women's NIT for the second time in the last three years in a memorable 2014-15 campaign.

Academic Highlights

  • The Youngstown State women's basketball team had another banner semester this past fall as its 13 student-athletes posted a combined grade-point average of 3.40. The program has achieved a cumulative GPA of at least 3.4 in three consecutive semesters.
  • All 13 Penguins posted at least a 3.0 GPA during the fall, and four – Nikki Arbanas, Sarah Cash, Morgan Olson and Heidi Schlegel – had a 4.0 during the semester.
  • Schlegel was named the Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Month twice this season – in December and January. She earned the award four times in her career.
  • Schlegel was one of 30 Division I women's basketball players in the country – and the first Penguin ever – who was selected as a candidate for the 2014-15 Senior CLASS Award for excelling in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

Team Highlights

  • Youngstown State won 21 games in 2014-15, posting 20-plus wins for the second time in the last three years. With seven true freshmen, the most in the Horizon League and in Ohio, the Penguins earned their 10th 20-win season in program history in 2014-15.
  • The Penguins also earned their second appearance in the Women's NIT in the last three seasons. YSU had a 13-year drought of playing in a postseason tournament before making the WNIT for the first time following the 2012-13 season. YSU and Cleveland State received the Horizon League's first ever at large invitations to the WNIT.
  • Youngstown State advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament and won at least nine conference games for the third straight season. The Penguins were 11-5 in 2012-13, 10-6 last season and 9-7 this season. They won a maximum of eight in their first 11 years in the league. YSU also finished in the top four of the standings for the third straight season after peaking at fifth in the previous 11 years.
  • The Penguins were 10-0 for the first time at the Division I level and for just the second time (1978-79) before losing at Pittsburgh on Dec. 21. YSU had its first 10-game winning streak since the 1997-98 season. The Penguins also set a new school record with 11 non-conference victories in 2014-15, surpassing the 10 that the 2012-13 squad posted.
  • YSU won at least 10 games at Beeghly Center for the third straight year, and its nine road wins tied for the fifth-most in a season in school history.
  • Youngstown State set new school records for assist-to-turnover ratio and fewest turnovers per game. The Penguins also posted their best marks in points per possession (1.02), scoring margin (plus 6.0) and free-throw percentage (.760) since 1997-98. YSU surpassed 2,200 points and shot at least 41 percent from the field for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
  • YSU led the Horizon League in 3-pointers per game and free-throw percentage, and it ranked second in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • On the national level, Youngstown State ranked 13th in free-throw percentage and 22nd in 3-pointers per game.
  • YSU made at least 200 3-pointers for the fifth straight season with 250 in 2014-15. Youngstown State is one of 18 programs in the country with at least 200 3-pointers in each of the last five seasons.
  • YSU averaged 1,518 fans at Beeghly Center in 2014-15, which was the most for the program since 2005-06. YSU had a higher average attendance than every Division I university located within 130 miles of campus.
  • YSU had its largest margin of victory in a season opener in 26 years, tied its largest margin of victory in its 30-game series with Kent State and won in Kent for the first time since 1996 and had its biggest road win since 2000 at Canisius.

Individual Highlights

  • Nikki Arbanas set a YSU freshman record with 55 3-pointers in 2014-15. She had two especially memorable performances from beyond the arc. She went 5-for-5 from 3-point range as part of a 25-point performance in the season opener against Niagara, and she was 6-for-8 at Oakland. Arbanas became the third Penguin to go at least 5-for-5 from 3-point range in a game and the first to do it in 18 years.
  • Indiya Benjamin was voted to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team. She led YSU with 115 assists and ranked third in scoring at 9.0 points per game. Her 49 3-pointers were the the second most in program history by a freshman behind Arbanas. Benjamin scored 22 points, the most ever by a Penguins freshman in a Horizon League game, against Wright State on Jan. 22.
  • Kelsea Newman tied the school record for 3-pointers by a sophomore with 54.
  • Schlegel was named First-Team All-Horizon League for the second straight season. She joined YSU Athletics Hall of Fame members Dorothy Bowers, Danielle Carson, Liz Hauger and Brianne Kenneally as the only two-time first-team all-conference players in school history. Schlegel ranked third in the Horizon League in both scoring (18.3 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 per game).
  • Schlegel became YSU's all-time leader in career free throws on Feb. 14 at Detroit. She finished her career with 498 makes, 55 more than second-place Brandi Brown and 160 more than fifth-place Liz Hauger. Schlegel also finished her career with 1,729 points, the fourth-most in program history, and 796 rebounds, the seventh-most program history.
  • Schlegel had the two highest individual scoring performances in the Horizon League this season when she had back-to-back 38-point efforts at Milwaukee and Valparaiso on Feb. 19 and Feb. 21. Her 76 points in consecutive road games tied a school record, and the 38 points tied for the eighth most in a game in school history. She was named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the third time in 2014-15 with her efforts.
  • Walker had the best season of her career with averages of 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. She ranked second in the Horizon League in free-throw percentage and blocks and was third in field-goal percentage. Walker had 49 blocks, tied for the third-most in school history, 2014-15. Her career total of 84 in just two seasons was the fifth-highest by a Penguin.