YSU Starts Four-Game Road Stretch at Valparaiso on Thursday

Jenna Hirsch (Photo by Courtney Metzger, Hawaii Media Source)
Jenna Hirsch (Photo by Courtney Metzger, Hawaii Media Source)

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State begins a stretch of four straight Horizon League road games for the first time in program history when it travels to Valparaiso on Thursday. Tipoff at the Athletics-Recreation Center is set for 8 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be broadcast on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
  • YSU will also play at UIC on Saturday, and the Penguins will play at Milwaukee and Green Bay next week. YSU's last stretch of four straight conference road games was in January 1998 when it played in the Mid-Continent Conference.
  • The Penguins have dropped their last four contests, including a 78-74 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday. A very short-handed squad battled to have a one-possession game in the final minute against the third-place team in the conference.
  • Morgan Olson scored a career-high 20 points in her first career start, and Alison Smolinski made five more 3-pointers in her 20-point effort. Olson started for an injured Mary Dunn.
  • Smolinski leads the Horizon League with 31 3-pointers in conference play.
  • YSU has made at least nine 3-pointers in 10 of the last 13 games after having eight or fewer in each of its first eight contests of the season.
  • Three of YSU's top five scorers from last season are out for the year with injuries. Additionally, Mary Dunn, the Horizon League's freshman leader in scoring, field-goal percentage and blocks, missed all but 97 seconds of the Green Bay game and all of the game against Milwaukee.
  • Even with the injuries, YSU is averaging 3.7 more points per game than it did last season.

A Win Would...

  • End a four-game losing streak.
  • Improve YSU's Horizon League record to 4-7.
  • Give YSU a regular-season sweep of Valparaiso.
  • Be YSU's first road win of the season.

On This Date

  • Youngstown State is 6-4 in games played on Feb. 2. The last time the Penguins played on the date, they beat Valparaiso 64-58 at Beeghly Center in 2012. YSU has lost its last four road games played on Feb. 2 and hasn't won a road game on the date since 1980.
  • Margaret Peters scored the 1,000th point of her career in 1985 in a 96-72 home win over Akron. The Penguins shot 59.1 percent in that victory.

Scouting Valparaiso

  • Valparaiso will be hungry to win its first Horizon League game on Thursday as it enters the contest with a 5-16 overall record and an 0-10 mark in league play. The Crusaders lost 74-60 at UIC on Saturday.
  • Valpo is tied for the league lead with four blocks per game, and it ranks third in free-throw percentage.
  • Individually, Dani Franklin leads the Horizon League in scoring at 18.4 points per game, but only one other Crusader averages more than eight points per game. Meredith Hamlet, who scored 29 points on Jan. 14, averages 9.3 points.

Series with Valparaiso

  • Youngstown State is 25-15 all time against Valparaiso in a series that dates back to 1993. Both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference from 1992-2001, and only one of the 38 meetings in the series has not been in conference play or in a conference tournament.
  • YSU has beaten Valparaiso eight straight times at Beeghly Center and has won 11 of the last 13 meetings since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Recently vs. Valparaiso

  • Earlier this season against Valpo on Jan. 14, Alison Smolinski scored 17 second-half points to help YSU rally for a 76-70 win at Beeghly Center. The Penguins led 19-7 in the first six minutes but went cold and trailed 35-30 at halftime. Mary Dunn added 18 points.
  • Last season at the ARC, Valparaiso built a 12-point lead in the first half and held YSU off to win 65-60. The Penguins got within a point twice in the fourth period but never caught the Crusaders.

Recapping Milwaukee

  • Morgan Olson scored a career-high 20 points, and Youngstown State made a late charge before falling 78-74 to Milwaukee on Saturday evening at Beeghly Center.
  • Olson, making her first career start in place of leading scorer Mary Dunn, was 9-for-13 from the field and scored her 20 points in 22 minutes. Alison Smolinski matched her with 20 points, and nine of those came in YSU's 31-point fourth period.
  • Milwaukee led by 12 in the second period and four different times in the fourth before YSU rallied with 21 points in the final two minutes. A Melinda Trimmer 3-pointer with seven seconds left got the Penguins within two, but Sierra Ford-Washington made two free throws for UWM to put the game out of reach.
  • Olson's previous career high was 12 points against Ohio Valley in 2014, and she was averaging two points this season coming into the contest.
  • Tamira Ford was also strong in the post with seven points and three rebounds in 10 minutes of action.
  • Indiya Benjamin added 10 points and nine assists without committing a turnover for the Penguins. She registered the 400th assist of her career in the contest. Only seven other players in program history have had at least 400 assists.
  • Melinda Trimmer continued her recent strong play with six points, five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. In her last four games, she is averaging seven points, 1.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from the field.
  • Jenna Hirsch played just four minutes in the second half due to back soreness