Smolinski's Strong Second Half Helps Penguins Beat Valparaiso, 76-70

Alison Smolinski (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
Alison Smolinski (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

Alison Smolinski scored 17 points in the second half to help the Youngstown State women's basketball team rally for a 76-70 win over Valparaiso on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

Smolinski went 5-for-7 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and made all four of her free-throw attempts in the half. She had missed the previous two games with a concussion but responded to lead the Penguins in scoring. Mary Dunn had 18 points, and Morgan Brunner added 17 for YSU, which won for the second time in three days.

Meredith Hamlet let Valparaiso with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Brunner scored eight straight points during a 12-0 run in the first period that gave the Penguins a 19-7 lead at the 4:36 mark. Youngstown State was 7-for-10 from the field at that point, but the Penguins made just three of their next 18 attempts as Valparaiso battled back to take the lead.

The Crusaders scored the next six points to get within 19-13, and YSU's lead was 21-15 at the end of the first period. Valparaiso caught the Penguins and took the lead at 28-27 on a Meredith Hamlet basket at the 3:35 mark, and YSU's only lead the rest of the half came after its next possession when Alison Smolinski driving bucket. Valpo scored the next seven points to go up 35-29 with 1:03 left, and a Morgan Olson free throw on the next possession accounted for the final points of the half.

YSU tied the score at 37-37 on a Brunner 3-pointer at the 8:26 of the third period, and its first lead of the second half came on an Indiya Benjamin triple five minutes later. A Smolinski 3-pointer increased the lead to 50-46 as YSU ended the third period by scoring eight of the final 10 points.

YSU extended its 18-4 run into the fourth period and went ahead 60-48 on another Smolinski triple with 7:35 remaining. Smolinski hit another big 3-pointer with 4:18 remaining once Valparaiso cut the lead down to 62-58, and YSU held Valpo scoreless for almost three minutes to go up 67-58. The Crusaders got within five in the final minute before Jenna Hirsch went 3-of-4 from the free-throw line to extend the lead.

YSU finished 10-for-22 from 3-point range and outscored Valparaiso by 10 at the free-throw line. The Penguins had 16 assists on 24 baskets and just eight turnovers.

Youngstown State will try to sweep its three-game homestand when it hosts Cleveland State on Monday at 7 p.m.