The Youngstown State women's basketball team torched the nets but struggled on the defensive glass in an 86-82 loss at Milwaukee on Thursday evening.
The Penguins shot 56.4 percent from the field, which was their best effort in at least a decade, and they went 13-for-25 from 3-point range. Milwaukee countered at 55.2 percent from the field, and the Panthers had a 21-3 edge in second-chance points.
Indiya Benjamin scored a team-high 21 points, including 10 in the fourth period, and made five 3-pointers. Mary Dunn came off the bench to score 17, and Alison Smolinski finished with 13. Melinda Trimmer had a game-high seven assists in her first career start.
Steph Kostowicz scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Panthers, and she went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:15.
Although Milwaukee led for almost 33 minutes, the score was tied 12 different times. The final tie was at 82-82 when Benjamin hit a 3 with 59.5 seconds left. Kostowicz made two free throws to put the Panthers up 84-82 with 45.2 seconds left, and Natalie Myers had a jumper rim out on YSU's possession. Kostowicz was fouled and made two more free throws, and Benjamin missed on an attempt with fewer than five seconds left.
Myers finished with a team-high eight rebounds and added eight points. All eight of her rebounds were on the defensive end, and those eight accounted for half of YSU's 16 on the defensive end. Milwaukee had 13 offensive rebounds, a dozen more than the Penguins, and the Panthers translated that into their 21-3 edge in second-chance points.
Milwaukee scored the first six points of the game and led until Jenna Hirsch's 3-pointer at the 4:59 mark tied the game at 8-8. The Panthers led by five twice before the Penguins took their first lead of the night at 21-20 on a Benjamin 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the period. UWM scored the next four points, and Benjamin knotted the score at 24 with a bucket from half court at the buzzer. It was Benjamin's third trey of the period and YSU's sixth as a team.
Benjamin scored on YSU's first possession of the second period to go up 26-24, but that was the Penguins' only lead the rest of the half. The score was tied four times before a 6-0 Milwaukee run put the Panthers ahead 39-33. UWM extended the lead to 46-38 on a Jenny Lindner 3-pointer with 1:04 left in the second period, and two Alison Smolinski free throws made the score 46-40 at halftime.
Milwaukee scored on the first possession of the third period to go up 48-40, but YSU went on an 8-0 run to tie the score at 48 on a Kelley Wright basket at the 8:10 mark. Milwaukee answered with a 5-0 run, and the Panthers extended the lead to 64-54 on a Kostowicz bucket at the 3:20 mark. Myers had five points during a 7-0 Penguins run that cut the margin[JV1] down to three.
Milwaukee started to pull away early in the fourth as it took a 73-64 lead at the 9:33 mark. That's when the Penguins made one more big push to eventually tie the game at 74-74 after a 10-1 run. Wright and Benjamin hit back-to-back 3s, and Benjamin added a deuce to cut the margin to one. The point guard then tied the game at 74-74 at the 5:03 mark.
Lindner and Smolinski traded 3-pointers to tie the game at 77-77, and Benjamin's fifth triple of the night tied the score for the final time at 82-82 with just under a minute remaining.
Youngstown State will conclude a four-game road stretch on Saturday when it plays at Green Bay. Tipoff at the Kress Center is set for 2 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on 570 WKBN and ESPN3.