Alison Smolinski scored a game-high 16 points, and seven different Penguins scored at least six as the Youngstown State women's basketball team won 71-54 at Niagara on Tuesday.
Smolinski made four first-half 3-pointers, and YSU finished with 10 as a team in improving to 2-0 on the season. Indiya Benjamin scored 15 points, and Nikki Arbanas and Morgan Olson finished with 10 each.
YSU had its fourth-best night in program history at the free-throw line, making 23 of its 24 attempts for 95.8 percent. Olson was 10-for-10 on her own, becoming the eighth Penguin to go at least 10-for-10 from the free throw line in a game.
In addition to balance in the scoring column, YSU had four players grab at least seven rebounds.
Niagara led 6-4 at the 5:39 mark, but a 3-pointer by Benjamin sparked an 8-0 run, and the Penguins never trailed again. The run grew to 15-3 after a Smolinski 3-pointer put Youngstown State up 19-9 with 1:29 left in the period.
YSU increased its lead to 11 twice in the second period – both times on 3-pointers by Smolinksi – before Niagara climbed back to within 28-24 at the 1:59 mark. Two Benjamin free throws with four seconds remaining made the score 30-24 at the break.
Victoria Rampado's three-point play on the first possession of the second half cut YSU's lead to three, but the Purple Eagles got no closer. Two Smolinski free throws put the Penguins up 38-29 with 6:51 left in the third period, and the lead got back to double digits on two Benjamin free throws at the 2:31 mark.
Kelsea Newman's 3-pointer on the first possession of the fourth quarter put the Penguins up 11, and a Janae Jackson jumper with 6:53 left put YSU up 59-49. The Penguins led by double digits for the remainder of the game, and the largest lead was 71-52 when Arbanas made two free throws with 45 seconds left.
YSU held Rampado, a preseason First-Team All-MAAC selection, to 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting. Kaylee Stroemple also had 12 points with 10 rebounds, and Simone Hobody came off the bench to score 10 points for Niagara.
Youngstown State will return home to host Radford on Friday at 7 p.m.