Late 3's, Defensive Stops Lift Penguins to 72-69 Win Over Wright State

Kelley Wright (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Kelley Wright (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Nikki Arbanas's 100th career 3-pointer broke a 65-all tie with 3:51 left, then the Youngstown State women's basketball team had to hold on for an exciting 72-69 win over the Raiders on Thursday night at the Beeghly Center.

With the gritty win, YSU improves to 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the Horizon League while Wright State is now 15-6 and 5-3.

YSU opened the fourth period with a 55-54 lead before the Raiders took their first lead since early in the first at 56-55. After Sarah Cash split a pair of free throws, the Raiders took a 58-56 lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Indiya Benjamin and Arbanas put the Guins ahead 62-58 with 7:30 remaining. 

WSU scored the next three points to get within one, but missed three straight free throws. Then YSU's Jill Blacksten, who made her first field goal since Jan. 2 in the first half, drained a wide-open 3-pointer to push the lead to 65-61. 

Four consecutive points by the Raiders knotted the score at 65 with 4:52 left in the game.

One minute later, Arbanas made the 100th 3-pointer of her career, and third of the game, to put YSU on top 68-65. Kim Demmings scored to get the Raiders within 68-67 before Cash connected on a pair of free throws with 2:38 remaining. WSU made it a 70-69 contest with 55.3 seconds left on a basket by Richelle van der Keijl.

After a miss by Benjamin, the Penguins defense drew and offensive foul on Demmings with 8.5 seconds left to force a turnover. Kelley Wright was fouled with 6.4 seconds left and calmly stepped to the line to make both with 6.4 seconds remaining.

WSU had a chance to force overtime but Mackenzie Taylor's 3-pointer from the top of the key was off the mark just before the buzzer sounded.

Cash led YSU with 21 points while Benjamin had 14 and Jackson had 10. Demmings finished with 22 for Wright State. Both teams made 29 field goals, while YSU made nine 3-pointers to Wright State's two. 

The Guins built a 24-17 lead at the end of the first quarter behind a strong performance by Benjamin. Benjamin scored 11 points in the opening frame on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor. Cash added eight points on 4-of-7 shooting for YSU.

As a team the Guins made 11-of-19 shots from the floor and scored 16 points in the paint.

Wright State scored the game's first four points before the Penguins scored 14 of the next 16 to go ahead 14-6 at the 5:43 mark.

YSU eventually took a pair of 10-point leads (18-8 and 20-10) before the Raiders closed within 22-17 late in the period. Just before the buzzer ended the frame Jackson hit a 12-footer to give YSU a seven-point advantage after one period.

The 24 points were the second most scored in the first period by the Guins this season while YSU led the final 7:30 of the frame.

In the second quarter, Wright State caught the Penguins and tied the game on two occasions. With the contest tied at 35, Blacksten drained her second career 3-pointer and scored her first points since Jan. 2 to break the deadlock.

The Raiders pulled within one, but a Jackson scored the final field goal of the period for the second straight time to give the Guins a 40-37 lead at the half.

YSU shot 50 percent from the field in the first half making 18-of-36 attempts while WSU was 16-of-37 (43.2 percent). The Raiders were just 1-of-9 from beyond the 3-point arc.

After three periods the Guins held a 55-54 lead. In a tight third period, YSU never trailed, but its biggest lead was just five which was 51-46 and 53-48. The Raiders tied the game on a pair of occasions, but could never seize the advantage.

The Penguins are at home again on Saturday against Northern Kentucky. Tipoff at the Beeghly Center is set for 1 p.m.

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Get to Know Janae Jackson
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Get to Know Jenna Hirsch
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Get to Know Sarah Cash
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Get to Know Marissa Brown
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Get to Know Jill Blacksten
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Get to Know Indiya Benjamin
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Get to Know Nikki Arbanas
October 22, 2015 Get to Know Nikki Arbanas