Women's Basketball Begins Final Week Hosting Oakland on Thursday

Tamira Ford (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Tamira Ford (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State begins the final week of the regular season by hosting Oakland on Thursday at Beeghly Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio, ESPN3 and WatchESPN. It continues a four-game home stand for the Penguins as they prepare for next week's Horizon League Tournament.
  • YSU will be seeded seventh or eighth in the conference tournament, and it will play Northern Kentucky, Valparaiso or UIC in the opening round of Motor City Madness the afternoon of March 3 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Entering the final weekend of conference play, none of the 10 seeds are locked in.
  • Youngstown State showed it is able to compete with the top team in the standings but fell 68-64 to Wright State on Saturday. The Penguins led for more than 21 minutes and held a nine-point advantage in the second period. Wright State flipped the game with 8-2 runs to close out both the second and third periods.
  • The contest was within two points twice in the final minute. YSU's only possession where it could take the lead ended with its 22nd turnover of the game. The Raiders outscored the Penguins 27-11 off turnovers in the game, including 14-0 in the second and third periods.
  • Three of YSU's last five losses have been by four points, and the Penguins trailed by just two in the final 15 seconds in each of those. YSU is 2-6 in games decided by five points or fewer this season after going 7-1 in such contests last season.
  • Mary Dunn is the reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Week, an honor she earned for a league-high fourth time. She averaged 12 points and shot 56.2 percent from the field last week. A top candidate to be named the Horizon League Freshman of the Year, she leads all league freshmen in scoring, field-goal percentage and blocks.
  • Alison Smolinski leads the Horizon League with 75 total 3-pointers and 3.0 3s per game. She has jumped into the all-league conversation by averaging 16.7 points in HL play, which ranks fifth in the conference. She has made 14 more 3s in league play than any other player, and she has made nine more triples than any other player in the country since Jan. 14.
  • With season-ending injuries to three primary players, YSU has had 13 different starting lineups in 27 games this season. Indiya Benjamin has started all 27 games, and Jenna Hirsch is the only other Penguin with more than 20 starts (21). Thirteen different players have started at least once.
  • Benjamin has moved into 20th place on YSU's career scoring list, and she scored a career-high 23 points on Saturday against Wright State. She ranks in the top 10 in program history in career assists, 3-pointers and 3-point field-goal percentage.

Tickets

  • Advance tickets for Thursday's game are available at the YSU Athletic Ticket Office in Stambaugh Stadium. Tickets can be ordered over the phone by calling (330) 941-1YSU. The ticket office is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The Beeghly Center Ticket Office and gates will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

A Win Would...

  • Improve YSU's Horizon League record to 6-11.
  • Allow YSU to split the season series with Oakland.
  • Be YSU's fifth straight against Oakland at home.
  • Allow YSU to win five of the last six meetings with the Golden Grizzlies.
  • Secure a winning record at Beeghly Center for the fifth straight year.

On This Date

  • Youngstown State is 5-8 all time in games played on Feb. 23. The last time the Penguins played on the date was in 2014, and YSU had a memorable 72-63 win at Green Bay.
  • YSU shot a program and Beeghly Center record 68.8 percent in an 88-67 win over Western Illinois in 1998.
  • Individually, Heidi Schlegel scored her 1,000th point in the win over Green Bay in 2014.

Scouting Oakland

  • Oakland is 16-11 overall and ranks fifth in the Horizon League with a 10-6 conference mark. The Golden Grizzlies come to Youngstown having won five of their six games in February.
  • Oakland leads the league in scoring offense at 76.1 points per game and steals with 11.7 per contest.
  • Individually, graduate transfer Hannah Little averages a double-double of 11.3 points and a league-leading 11.8 rebounds per game. She is one of four Golden Grizzlies averaging at least 10.8 points per game.

Series with Oakland

  • YSU and Oakland are 9-9 all time against each other in a series that dates back to the 1998-99 season when both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference.
  • YSU is 6-3 in the series since Oakland joined the Horizon League with a wins in the Horizon League Tournament in 2014 and 2016. The Penguins have won four straight in the series at Beeghly Center.

Recently vs. Oakland

  • At Oakland on Jan. 22, the Golden Grizzlies scored 15 straight points to take a 15-2 lead in the first period and won 80-54. After the 15-0 run, the margin was at least seven the rest of the game. Alison Smolinski (13) and Mary Dunn (12) combined for 25 points.
  • Last year at Beeghly Center, YSU overcame a 44-30 third-period deficit to rally for a 67-63 win on Feb. 4. The Penguins closed the third on an 8-1 run and outscored the Golden Grizzlies 29-18 in the fourth. Sarah Cash scored 18 second-half points, and Nikki Arbanas made six 3s.

Recapping Wright State

  • Youngstown State had a great opportunity to beat Horizon League-leading Wright State but came up short in a 68-64 loss on Saturday at Beeghly Center.
  • The Penguins led for more than 21 minutes and had a nine-point advantage late in the second period. Wright State used a 13-4 run that stretched from the third period to early in the fourth to take the lead, and YSU's late charge came up short.
  • YSU trailed 61-59 with 1:50 to go and got a stop on defense. The Penguins committed their 22nd turnover on their possession, and Emily Vogelpohl hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put the Raiders up 64-59 with 44.9 seconds left. YSU trailed 66-64 with six seconds left when Vogelpohl made two free throws for the final margin.
  • YSU, which came into the game ranking 12th in the country in free-throw percentage at 78 percent, uncharacteristically went 6-for-12 from the line.
  • The Penguins were outscored 27-11 off turnovers and were minus-15 in turnover margin. That offset a strong effort shooting from the field for the Penguins, who shot 52.1 percent overall (25-for-48) and 40 percent from 3-point range (8-for-20).
  • Indiya Benjamin scored a career-high 23 points and moved into the top 20 in program history in career points. She is averaging a career-best 11.5 points this season. Benjamin added five assists, four rebounds and two steals while playing all 40 minutes.
  • Alison Smolinski scored 20 points and also played all 40 minutes for the Penguins. She upped her scoring average in Horizon League play to 16.7.
  • Wright State's Chelsea Welch filled the box score with 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals.