Penn State Pulls Away in Fourth to Hand YSU First Loss

Sarah Cash (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Sarah Cash (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team stayed within striking distance at Penn State until the Nittany Lions went on a 12-0 run in the second half to pull away for a 68-51 win on Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

YSU didn't have its best shooting night, but it trailed Penn State just 48-41 with 2:06 left in the third period. The Nittany Lions' 12-point spurt gave it a 60-41 lead, and YSU got no closer than 13 the rest of the way.

Sarah Cash showcased her skills against YSU's first Big Ten opponent in eight years, posting her first career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore forward from Lordstown, Ohio, was 9-for-13 from the field and added three assists in 27 minutes.

Nikki Arbanas added 10 points, and Alison Smolinski scored nine for YSU, which dropped to 6-1 with the loss.

Kaliyah Mitchell scored 16 points to lead four Nittany Lions in double figures. Penn State improved to 4-5 with the victory.

Youngstown State scored the first seven points of the game on a Cash bucket and five straight points by Smolinski. Mitchell hit a 3 for Penn State's first points at the 6:53 mark, and a 3 off an offensive rebound got the Nittany Lions rolling. Penn State tied the score at 7-7, and YSU's last lead of the night came when Arbanas made a back-door lay-up with 5:05 left in the first.

The Penguins didn't score for more than seven minutes after that Arbanas bucket, and the Nittany Lions scored 15 straight to go ahead 22-9.

YSU cut the deficit to 22-15 on a Cash bucket, and Penn State hit a 3 on its final possession of the first half to take a 35-21 lead at halftime.

Penn State's lead grew to 16 at 43-27 on a three-point play by Mitchell, but YSU used a 13-4 run to trim the lead to seven on two occasions. Indiya Benjamin's 3-pointer made the score 47-40 at the 2:38 mark, and a free-throw by Smolinski made the score 48-41 32 seconds later.

The Penguins didn't score again until Janae Jackson's bucket with 8:50 left in the third stopped Penn State's 12-point run. YSU played with five reserves over the final five minutes and cut the lead to 64-51 with 1:50 left, and the Nittany Lions scored the final four points of the game for the final tally.

Youngstown State finished the game shooting 38.6 percent, but it went 4-for-22 from 3-point range and missed 14 consecutive attempts from beyond the arc at one point. Penn State shot 41.2 percent, and it held slight edges of 36-30 in the paint and 12-8 in second-chance points despite having a large size advantage inside.

Youngstown State will begin a three-game home stand against Kent State on Saturday at noon.

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