Penguins Come Up Short in Upset Bid vs. Wright State, 68-64

Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Dustin Livesay)
Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Dustin Livesay)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team 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 Youngstown State's late charge came up short.

Indiya Benjamin scored a career-high 23 points and added five assists, and Alison Smolinski scored 20. Smolinski added four 3-pointers to up her yearly total to 75.

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 also 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).

Wright State's Chelsea Welch filled the box score with 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals.

After Wright State scored the first two points of the game, YSU went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-2 lead at the 5:29 mark of the first period. The Penguins led for all but 30 seconds the rest of the half.

Wright State scored the next four points, and YSU held a seven-point advantage twice in the final three minutes, the second time being 16-9 on a Jenna Hirsch jumper. Wright State scored the final four points of the first period and hit a 3 at the 8:56 mark of the second period to tie the score at 16-16.

Smolinski's first 3 of the game came 30 seconds later to put the Penguins back on top, and YSU eventually built a 30-21 lead on another Smolinski 3 with 2:44 left. Wright State ended the half on an 8-2 spurt to get within 32-29.

YSU's largest lead of the second half came when a Smolinski triple made the score 35-31 with 8 minutes left in the third. The final time the Penguins held the upper hand was 40-38 with 5:21 remaining, but that's when Wright State went on a 13-4 run into the fourth period to take a 51-44 lead with 8:40 left. The Raiders' largest lead was 55-47 at the 6:36 mark.

Benjamin scored the next five points to get the Penguins back within a possession, and she split a pair of free throws with 1:50 remaining to make the score 61-59. YSU got a defensive stop but committed a turnover, and Emily Vogelpohl hit a 3-pointer in the corner to put the Raiders up 64-59 with 44.9 seconds left.

Smolinski hit a layup on YSU's possession to get the margin back to three, but Mackenzie Taylor answered with a basket for Wright State with nine seconds remaining. Benjamin's 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left made the score 66-64, and Vogelpohl hit two free throws for the final points of the game.

Youngstown State will continue its four-game home stand on Thursday by hosting Oakland at 7 p.m.