Penguins Show Grit in 63-50 Loss at Pitt

Alison Smolinski
Alison Smolinski

The short-handed Youngstown State women's basketball team showed a lot of grit before falling 63-50 at Pittsburgh on Kids Day at Petersen Events Center. Nearly 9,800 fans were in attendance.

The Penguins led 16-12 in the first period, and they trimmed a 22-point deficit down to 11 in the fourth period before coming up short.

Alison Smolinski led the Penguins with 14 points, and Indiya Benjamin scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth period. Mary Dunn and Jenna Hirsch added eight, and Natalie Myers scored six. YSU's starting five accounted for 44 of the team's 47 points.

The Penguins played without three of their primary perimeter players as Nikki Arbanas, Kelsea Newman and Kelley Wright all sat out with injuries. Additionally, preseason First-Team All-Horizon League pick Sarah Cash was limited to 10 minutes with a nagging injury.

Brenna Wise had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Pittsburgh, which outscored the Penguins 22-6 off turnovers.

Jenna Hirsch hit 3-pointers on YSU's first two possessions, and the Guins led 6-2 at the 9:11 mark. YSU built its lead to 11-5 on a Benjamin basket at the 6:25 mark for its largest lead of the game. Pitt forced the first tie of the game at 12-12 with 5:14 remaining when Wise scored her sixth and seventh points. YSU scored the next four points on a Dunn basket and two Smolinski free throws and led 16-12 with 3:31 left in the period.

YSU had just one turnover in the first seven minutes, but it had six in the next seven minutes as Pitt scored the final 10 points of the first period and grew its lead to 29-19 at the 6:15 mark of the second period. A Dunn jumper just over two minutes later cut YSU's deficit to 31-22, which was the final time the margin was within single digits.

Pittsburgh led 39-26 at halftime and opened the third period by scoring 11 of the first 13 points to take its largest lead of the day at 50-28. The margin stayed 20 at the end of the period, but YSU made a surge early in the fourth to close the gap.

The Penguins scored on their first three possessions of the final period on a Hirsch jumper, a Benjamin triple and a Smolinski bucket to make the score 52-39 with just over nine minutes left. Pitt called timeout and went a 5-0 run, but YSU answered with an eight-point spurt that cut the deficit to 57-46 with 6:05 left. Youngstown State missed its next eight shots, including four that would have gotten the Penguins within single digits.

Youngstown State will play two games in Hawaii later this week at the Bank of Hawaii Classic. The Penguins will play Hawaii at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday, and they will take on Sacramento State at 7 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.