YSU Starts Road-Heavy February at Cleveland State Saturday

YSU Starts Road-Heavy February at Cleveland State Saturday
Youngstown State at Cleveland State
Date & Time Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m.
Location Wolstein Center (Cleveland, Ohio)
Tickets Purchase Online through CSUVikings.com
Radio 570 WKBN | iHeartRadio
Video Horizon League Network
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Live Tweets @YSUSports | @YSUWomensHoops | @javogel34
Hash Tags #GoGuins | #HLWBB
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Fresh off a 4-0 home stand, the Youngstown State women's basketball team will start a road-dominated month of February at Cleveland State's Wolstein Center on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio and the HLN.

The Penguins have played just four true road games all season, and Saturday's game against the Vikings will be the first of five road contests in February for YSU. Youngstown State finished up a 6-1 January and a perfect home stand by beating Detroit 80-71 on Wednesday evening. The Penguins had to rally from a 14-point first-half deficit against the Titans to improve to 6-0 in Horizon League play. The Penguins scored 14 straight points in a four-minute span to tie the game at 36, but YSU didn't retake the lead until there was fewer than six minutes remaining in the game. Karen Flagg scored 16 of her game and career-high 26 points in the first half and kept the contest from getting away. Heidi Schlegel and Jenna Hirsch both overcame off shooting nights to score 16 points, and Kelsea Newman came off the bench to score 11.

Youngstown State continues to lead the Horizon League with its 6-0 record and has a two-game lead in the loss column on three teams. The Penguins lead the league in conference play in scoring defense, scoring margin, field-goal percentage defense and 3-point field goal shooting. Schlegel's 19.5 points per game for the season is the third-highest in the conference. Liz Hornberger was last week's Horizon League Player of the Week, but she was held scoreless on just two shots against Detroit. Hirsch is a two-time league Freshman of the Week.

Cleveland State matched Youngstown State's 3-0 start to conference play but has gone 1-3 since. The Vikings stopped a three-game skid by winning 76-66 at Valparaiso on Monday. The Vikings are the league's top shooting team, and Imani Gordon headlines three players who each average at least 14.8 points per game.

YSU will finish the first half of Horizon League play at Wright State on Wednesday at noon.

Top Story Lines

  • Youngstown State is 6-0 in the Horizon League for the first time in its 13 seasons in the league and is 6-0 in conference play for the first time since 1997-98. The Penguins have never started 7-0.
  • YSU started the season 1-6 but has gone 9-3 since. The uptick coincides with Jenna Hirsch moving into the starting lineup and seniors Monica Touvelle and Melissa Thompson recovering from early injuries.
  • The Penguins are tied the nation's lead in fewest number of away games played this season.
  • In 19 games, Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League forward Heidi Schlegel has posted the nine highest scoring games of her career, ranging from 28 points to 22.
  • 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.

Scouting Cleveland State

Cleveland State is 9-11 overall and 4-3 in Horizon League play. The Vikings won their first three conference games then lost their next three. They are coming off a 76-66 win at Valparaiso on Monday.

The Vikings lead the league in field-goal percentage and 3-point field-goal percentage, and four of their starters shoot at least 45 percent from the field. Imani Gordon's 17.4 points per game leads three players averaging at least 14.8, and the junior's 9.3 rebounds rank second in the conference.

Last Time vs. Cleveland State

Brandi Brown scored 31 points and help lead YSU to a 69-62 win over Cleveland State in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Tournament on March 13, 2013 at Beeghly Center.

The Penguins built a 62-46 lead late in the contest before the Vikings went on a frantic 14-2 run to make things tense. The Vikings were able to get within 65-62 on a putback by Haley Schmitt with 18.2 seconds left. YSU converted four straight free throws to finish out the victory. Shar'Rae Davis added 18 points for YSU.

Series with Cleveland State

YSU has played Cleveland State more than any other opponent, and the Penguins hold a 34-27 lead in the all-time series.

The Vikings won nine straight meetings from 2007-2011, but YSU has won four of the last six. The Guins were 3-0 against the Vikings last season.

Recapping Detroit

YSU battled back from a 14-point deficit to defeat Detroit 80-71 on Wednesday night at the Beeghly Center.

Karen Flagg scored 16 of her career-high 26 points in the first half, and she finished off a solid all-around night with eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks and a steal. Three other Penguins scored in double figures.

The Penguins trailed 36-22 in the first half and didn't lead in the second half until Heidi Schlegel's lay-up with 5:43 left made the score 65-64. That bucket was in the middle of an 8-0 run for YSU, and the Guins ended the game on an 8-2 spurt.

Depth Showed When Needed

Balance has been one of YSU's strengths recently, and it was key in the win over Detroit. With starters Liz Hornberger, Heidi Schlegel and Latisha Walker combining for two points in the first half, Karen Flagg, Kelsea Newman and Melissa Thompson all stepped up. Flagg scored 16 of YSU's 36 first-half points, and Newman came off the bench to nail three 3-pointers in just over 90 seconds. Thompson had four points in eight first-half minutes off the bench.

Just Keep Shooting

Junior Heidi Schlegel and freshman Jenna Hirsch overcame off shooting nights to still post solid totals. Schlegel missed her first 12 field-goal attempts of the game, but she made five of her final seven and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to finish with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Schlegel scored six of YSU's eight points when it finally caught and surpassed Detroit in the second half. Hirsch was 5-for-21 shooting, but she had some of the game's biggest buckets. She scored five straight points once Detroit took its largest lead of the game at 36-22 in the first half. Hirsch then had a steal and lay-up immediately after Schlegel gave the Penguins the lead in the second half, and she hit a big 3-pointer to push the lead to five with 3:24 left.

Odds & Ends

YSU trailed for 29:16 and led for just 6:10 in the contest... The Penguins had trailed for 8:32 combined in their first five conference games... The last time YSU overcame a 14-point deficit and won was at Bucknell on Nov. 16, 2011... Flagg set a new career high by nine points... She was 5-for-6 from 3-point range in the contest; she was 8-for-25 from beyond the arc in the first 18 games... Newman reached double figures for the third time... The Penguins set a new season low with seven turnovers... They've had 32 assists and 15 turnovers over the last two games... The Penguins shot a season-best 84.2 percent from the free-throw line... The 77 field-goal attempts were the most by YSU since it attempted 82 at Cleveland State on Jan. 8, 2003... YSU blocked seven shots, the most by a Penguins team since they blocked 10 on March 9, 2009 in the Horizon League Tournament... The last time they blocked seven shots at home or in a regular-season game was against Wright State on Jan. 17, 2008... Detroit's 47 rebounds were the most by an opponent this season.

Expect Detailed Scouting Reports

  • Youngstown State and Cleveland State should be very familiar with the other team's personnel. YSU assistant coach Andy Crane was on Kate Peterson-Abiad's staff at Cleveland State last season, and CSU assistant Bernard Scott was an assistant with the Penguins under Cindy Martin from 2008-10. Scott has been at Cleveland State since.
  • Scott recruited and coached YSU's Melissa Thompson when she redshirted in 2009-10, and he recruited senior Monica Touvelle and redshirt junior Heidi Schlegel.

3-Pointers Still Key to Offense

  • Youngstown State's offense was built around 3-point shooting the last three seasons, and head coach John Barnes was quick to assure that, while he was going to emphasize the post more, the 3 was still going to be a big part of the offense.
  • The Penguins have really been zoned in from distance in league play. They've averaged a conference-best 9.7 3-pointers per game in league play while shooting at a 40-percent clip.
  • YSU has made at least 11 3-pointers in each of its last three games and has made at least seven in all six conference contests. The Penguins have made at least 11 3-pointers in three straight games just one other time in school history (seven straight in 2011-12).
  • Only four teams in the country made more 3-pointers in the previous two seasons than YSU. The Penguins are 78th nationally in total 3s made this season, but their 3-point shooting percentage is actually the highest its been since 2004-05.

Winning Formula Starts with Defense

  • Youngstown State has played some if its best defense of the season to start Horizon League play. The Penguins are holding conference opponents to an average of 61.7 points and 36 percent shooting, both of which are league-bests. YSU allowed non-conference opponents to average 71.7 points and 41 percent shooting.
  • YSU is 6-0 when holding opponents under 65 points and 7-0 when opponents shoot under 37.5 percent this season.
  • In all nine of its wins, YSU scored at least 62 points, had at least three players reach double figures and shot more free throws than its opponents. Green Bay is the only team to out-rebound YSU in a Penguins victory, and YSU has led at halftime in each of its wins except against Detroit.

Offense Has Improved as Season Progresses

  • YSU's was really in high gear in January. The Penguins shot 42.1 percent overall and 37.9 percent from 3-point range while averaging 71.4 points.
  • Going back even further, YSU has shot 41.2 percent overall and 36.7 percent from 3-point range since the start of December. The Penguins shot 33 percent overall and 22.8 percent from the arc in five games in November.
  • YSU's average of 67.7 points per game is its highest since 2000-01 (68.0 ppg), and its .390 shooting percentage is the highest since 2004-05 (.397). YSU has upped its scoring by 3.9 points per game in 2013-14 despite losing two of its top three scorers from last year.

Top Rebounding YSU Team in 18 Years

  • Youngstown State is averaging 40.7 rebounds per game this season, which is the most by a Penguins team since 1995-96. YSU averaged just 34 rebounds last year and had its lowest rebounding average in school history just three years ago.
  • The Penguins have held the rebounding edge in 12 of their 19 games this season, and they are 9-3 in those contests. They had the edge just 13 times in 33 games last season and nine times combined the previous two seasons combined.