Women's Basketball Welcomes Buffalo to Beeghly Center on Wednesday

Latisha Walker | Photo by Dustin Livesay
Latisha Walker | Photo by Dustin Livesay

The Youngstown State women's basketball team continues its season-opening three-game home stand on Wednesday when it hosts Buffalo at Beeghly Center. Tipoff with the Bulls is set for 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio and the Horizon League Network. Live stats will also be available through YSUsports.com.

The Penguins are coming off a 85-66 loss to VCU in the 2013-14 season opener on Saturday in which John Barnes made his YSU head coaching debut. YSU led 14-7 more than eight minutes into the game, and the score was tied at 20 with 6:30 left in the first half. VCU ended the period on a 26-9 run and led by double digits the entire second half. The Penguins matched the Rams in shooting but committed 14 more turnovers, which resulted in a 33-8 deficit in points off turnovers.

Forwards Heidi Schlegel and Latisha Walker shined for the Penguins in Barnes' new inside-out offense. Schlegel finished with a career-high 27 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes, and Walker posted 18 points and 10 rebounds in her YSU debut.

Buffalo opened the season with a 65-47 win at Binghamton on Friday evening. The Bulls held the Bearcats to 26.4 percent shooting and built a 36-19 lead at halftime. Buffalo was tabbed to finish third in the MAC East Division, and Mackenzie Loesing was a preseason all-conference pick.

Youngstown State will conclude its three-game home stand against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 20 at 5:15 p.m. It will be the first of six doubleheaders with the YSU men's team this season.

Top Story Lines

  • This is the second game of a season-opening three-game home stand for Youngstown State. The Penguins are scheduled for a school-record 17 home games this season.
  • @CoachJohnBarnes will be looking for his first win as YSU's head coach. He is the seventh head coach in school history, and he's the fourth hired during the school's Division I era. All four (Hill, Cindy Martin, Bob Boldon, John Barnes) were D-I coaches for the first time.
  • Heidi Schlegel is a preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League selection by the conference and College Sports Madness. She scored a career-high 27 points in the season opener against VCU in her first game as a primary scoring option.
  • Junior Latisha Walker registered a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds in her first game in a Penguins uniform. The transfer from Xavier became the first Penguin with a double-double in her debut since 2001-02.
  • YSU's starting frontcourt of Schlegel and Walker combined for 45 points on 16-for-35 shooting, but the rest of the team combined for 21 points on 7-for-25 shooting.
  • Youngstown State went 23-10 last season, its best record since 1997-98. The Penguins finished second in the Horizon League, played in the conference tournament semifinals and won a game in the WNIT.
  • The four-member senior class is the largest for YSU since the 2008-09 squad had six.

Scouting Buffalo

  • Buffalo built a 36-19 halftime lead and held Binghamton to 26.4-percent shooting in a season-opening 65-47 victory on Friday. Buffalo jumped out to a 23-6 advantage in the first 10 minutes and led by at least 14 the rest of the contest.
  • Preseason all-conference guard Mackenzie Loesing had 16 points in 18 minutes, and Buffalo held a 48-39 edge on the glass.
  • The Bulls, who finished 12-20 overall and 8-8 in the MAC last year, were picked to finish third in the MAC East Division under second-year head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.

Last Time vs. Buffalo

  • YSU got 24 points from Brandi Brown and 19 from Shar'Rae Davis in a 60-50 win at Buffalo in the second game of the 2012-13 season on Nov. 13.
  • The Penguins led 30-20 at halftime – with 25 of those points coming from Brown and Davis – and built a 50-32 advantage before the Bulls went on a 15-13 run to get within six with three minutes remaining.
  • YSU outscored Buffalo 27-11 over the final 17 minutes of the first half.

Series with Buffalo

YSU leads the all-time series 13-11 after last year's victory. YSU won 10 of the first 12 meetings, but Buffalo has taken nine of the last 12. The Penguins are 7-3 against UB in Beeghly Center with each of their last two wins at home coming by at least 30 points (2004 and 2006). YSU was 3-0 against the Bulls in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament, including a victory in the 1996 final.

Recapping VCU

  • Youngstown State led 14-7 eight-and-a-half minutes into the game before VCU scored 39 points in the final 11:16 of the half. That surge turned YSU's seven-point lead into a 17-point deficit. The Rams ended the period on a 26-9 run.
  • VCU used its length and athleticism to force YSU into 27 turnovers, resulting in a 33-8 edge in points off turnovers for the Rams. VCU also outscored YSU 25-2 in fast-break points.
  • YSU surrendered more than 20 fast-break points for the first time since Feb. 11, 2012, and it allowed at least 33 points off turnovers for the first time since Jan. 19, 2012 against Green Bay.
  • The 27 turnovers were the most at home since Jan. 6, 2011, against Green Bay.
  • Of VCU's 25 fast-break points, 13 came directly off turnovers.
  • Although both teams shot 38.3 percent, VCU was 31-of-81 and YSU was 23-of-60. The difference in attempts was because of VCU's 27 forced turnovers and five more offensive rebounds.
  • YSU's starting frontcourt of Heidi Schlegel and Latisha Walker combined for 45 points on 16-for-35 shooting, but the rest of the team combined for 21 points on 7-for-25 shooting.
  • Walker had 18 points and 10 rebounds in her Penguins debut. She sat out last season due to NCAA transfer requirements. In her two years at Xavier, Walker had eight points and 11 rebounds total. Jen Perugini (2001-02) was the last YSU player with a double-double in her first game wearing the red and white.
  • Schlegel scored a career-high 27 points in 30 minutes. Her previous career high was 21 points as a redshirt freshman at Ohio. Saturday was just the second time Schlegel went over 20 points in her career.
  • In addition to Walker, three other players made their Penguins debuts. Redshirt freshman forward Kelsea Newman scored four points and had a rebound, freshman forward Jonna Raflund had a point and a rebound, and freshman guard Jenna Hirsch had four assists and two rebounds.
  • Youngstown State was just 1-for-15 from 3-point range with Liz Hornberger and Heidi Schlegel combining for 11 of those attempts. The Penguins made a 3-pointer for the 100th consecutive game.
  • Ashley Lawson set new career highs with five points and three rebounds in a career-best 19 minutes.
  • Walker had the most points in a YSU debut since Boki Dimitrov scored 21 in 2009-10. Walker's 18 rebounds were the most in a debut since Brandi Brown had 10 in the 2009-10 season opener.
  • The Penguins had their most points in a season opener in four years.

Barnes Hopes to Continue Growth of Program

  • John Barnes is in his first season at the helm of the Youngstown State Women's Basketball program. He takes over for Bob Boldon, who moved on to take a rebuilding project as the head coach at Ohio.
  • @CoachJohnBarnes is a Division I head coach for the first time in his career, but he's no stranger to leading winning programs. He was the head coach at Michigan Tech, one of the top Division II programs in the country, for seven seasons from 2003-10 and assembled a record of 156-55. Barnes's teams have won nearly 73 percent of the games he's coached in as a head coach or an assistant.
  • Barnes is the seventh head coach in school history. He is the first to inherit the reins of the program when it is coming off a winning season.

Coming Off Best Season Since 1997-98

  • Youngstown State's 23-10 record in 2012-13 was its best since the 1997-98 squad went 28-3. The Penguins played in their first postseason tournament since 1999-2000, and their 63-51 win over Indiana State in the first round of the WNIT was their first postseason victory since upsetting Memphis the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
  • YSU advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament for the first time since joining the conference in 2001-02.
  • Additionally, YSU set school records for Horizon League victories (11) and home victories (14), and it tied the school record for non-conference wins (10).

Posts Shined in Inside-Out Offense

  • In the first game of Coach John Barnes's inside-out offense, Youngstown State's posts flouorished. Heidi Schlegel set a career high with 27 points, and Latisha Walker had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Barnes's philosophy is a relatively conventional offense that features either one or two posts around the paint. He's he's emphasized the 3-pointers will still be frequent. His teams at Michigan Tech regularly placed among the top in the conference in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.
  • Youngstown State played a five-out motion offense the last three seasons that resulted in school-record-breaking 3-point attempts and makes.

Commitment To Defense

  • Coach John Barnes was an all-defensive team selection as a player, and he wants his Penguins team to have tenacity and a commitment to team defense.
  • The Penguins held opponents to 57.8 points per game last season, which was the best scoring defense by YSU since 1978-79. The 57.8 points allowed were 9.7 points fewer than in 2011-12. Opponents were also held to 27.7 percent from 3-point range, which was less than one percent shy of a school record.
  • Youngstown State allowed 85 points in the opener against VCU, but Barnes was pleased with the overall half-court defense. The Rams shot just 38.3 percent, and their point total was high because of 25 points fast-break points and 19 points from offensive rebounds.

Penguins Employing "Next Player Up" Mentality

  • The Penguins are without some key guards for the early part of this season, and it's forcing young players into prominent roles and moving veterans to other positions.
  • Guard Janae Jackson, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, is missing this season as well due to a knee injury. She had the potential to be among the team's top players on both ends of the floor. Point guard Shar'Rae Davis is out medically after starting all 33 games last season and being named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. A foot injury is keeping 3-point threat Monica Touvelle on the bench, and guard Amanda Barger missed the opener with a sore back.
  • Senior Liz Hornberger, YSU's starting shooting guard the majority of the past two seasons, started at point guard in the season opener. Fellow senior Melissa Thompson stepped in as the starting shooting guard for the first time in her career, and Ashley Lawson played a career-high 19 minutes as a wing. Taylor Hvisdak played 11 minutes, the second-highest total of her career, and freshmen Jenna Hirsch (17) and Kelsea Newman (16) both played a high volume of minutes.

YSU Picked Third in Horizon League Preseason Poll

  • Youngstown State's third-place ranking in the Horizon League preseason poll is its best preseason ranking since joining the conference for the 2001-02 season.
  • The Penguins, coming off a second-place finish in the league last year, received 165 points in the poll to finish behind preseason favorite Green Bay (225 points) and Wright State (189).
  • Additionally, Shar'Rae Davis and Heidi Schlegel were voted Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League.

Hornberger, Touvelle Lead 3-Point Efforts

  • Youngstown State returns one of the top 3-point duos in school history in seniors Liz Hornberger and Monica Touvelle. Last year they were the first pair of players in school history to make at least 55 3-pointers in the same season. Hornberger finished with 65, and Touvelle had 62.
  • Touvelle ranks seventh in school history with 140 career 3-pointers, and Hornberger has 120. The school record is 198.
  • Touvelle and Hornberger are just part of Youngstown State's recent history of success from beyond the 3-point line. Over the last two years, only four teams in the country made more 3-pointers than YSU.