YSU Concludes Opening Three-Game Home Stand Against NKU

Ashley Lawson | Photo by Ron Stevens
Ashley Lawson | Photo by Ron Stevens

The Youngstown State women's basketball team will try to end its season-opening three-game home stand with a victory on Wednesday as it hosts Northern Kentucky. Tipoff against the Norse is set for 5:15 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio and the HLN. The contest will be the first of six doubleheaders with the YSU men this season.

The Penguins are looking for their first win of the season as well as their first under head coach John Barnes. YSU lost 85-66 in its season opener to VCU (Nov. 9) and 72-65 to Buffalo last Wednesday. The Penguins led VCU by seven and Buffalo by 10 before turnovers and poor outside shooting doomed them in both losses. YSU hit 12 of its first 17 (70.6 percent) field-goal attempts in the first 14:17 against the Bulls, but the Guins were 7-for-36 (19.4 percent) the rest of the game. The game featured a total of 54 fouls, which added to YSU's injury-related depth struggles.

Heidi Schlegel was strong again for YSU against Buffalo with 23 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. The junior forward is averaging 25 points and nine rebounds while shooting 45.9 percent in her first season as a primary scoring option. Latisha Walker is averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds in her first season at YSU after transferring from Xavier.

NKU beat Cincinnati and Illinois State at home to start the season before losing at UNC Wilmington on Saturday. Junior forward Melody Doss is averaging 25.7 points and 7.7 rebounds. The Norse are in their second season competing at the Division I level.

YSU will play its first road game of the season on Nov. 26 at Bucknell.

Top Story Lines

  • Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League selection Heidi Schlegel has posted the two highest scoring games of her career to start this season – 27 points vs. VCU and 23 against Buffalo.
  • Junior Latisha Walker has formed a strong duo with Schlegel in the post with averages of 12 points and 9.5 rebounds. She's in her first season at YSU as a transfer from Xavier.
  • This is the final 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.
  • YSU made the fourth-most 3-pointers in the country over the past two seasons but is just 4-for-36 (11.1 percent) from the 3-point arc to start the 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, Barnes) were D-I coaches for the first time.
  • 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 Northern Kentucky

  • Northern Kentucky is 2-1 with home wins over Cincinnati (Nov. 9) and Illinois State (Nov. 13) and a road loss at UNC Wilmington (Nov. 16).
  • The Norse, in their second season at the Division I level, were picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun preseason poll. Senior guard Kayla Thacker was a preseason all-conference selection. NKU went 15-13 last season and earned a berth in the WBI.
  • Melody Doss is averaging 25.7 points as one of four Norse players averaging double figures. The other five players who have appeared combine to average 8.6 points.

Last Time vs. Northern Kentucky

  • Northern Kentucky scored four points in the final two seconds to steal a 66-64 win from YSU on Nov. 27, 2012, at The Bank of Kentucky Center.
  • YSU led by five with 40 seconds left and by two with two seconds remaining. Kayla Thacker hit a leaning bucket around a defender from 19 feet away to tie the score at 64, and Melody Doss hit a runner in the paint off an inbounds pass at the buzzer following a Penguins turnover.

Series with NKU

  • Youngstown State is 0-1 in the only meeting with Northern Kentucky. The Penguins led by as many as eight points in the second half and by five in the final minute in last season's loss.
  • YSU is 0-2 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun. The Penguins lost at Stetson University in 2010. Wednesday's contest will be the first at Beeghly Center against a team from the A-Sun.

Recapping Buffalo

  • Similar to the game against VCU, YSU built a lead midway through the first half before falling. YSU led Buffalo by 10 points on three different occasions – the first time at 11:24 and the last time at 5:43. Buffalo closed out the first half on a 9-2 run then scored 13 of the first 16 points in the second half.
  • The Penguins were 12-for-17 from the field shooting (70.6 percent) when they led 30-20 with 5:43 left in the first half. They did not make a field goal the rest of the first half, and Liz Hornberger's 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half was YSU's only bucket until the 11:56 mark.
  • YSU trailed by as many as 12 at 66-54 with 4:41 remaining. The Penguins scored eight straight points over the next two minutes to get within four but could get no closer. YSU missed its final six field-goal attempts of the game.
  • Ashley Lawson made her first career start. She missed all of her true freshman year and all but 10 games last year with various injuries. Lawson responded to score a career-high 10 points.
  • Heidi Schlegel scored 23 points, the second-most in her career only to the 27 points she scored in the season opener against VCU. Schlegel is averaging 25 points and nine rebounds through the first two games. She averaged 9.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over the first 56 games of her career.
  • The Penguins and Bulls were whistled for a combined 54 fouls. That was the most in a YSU game since 56 were called in a double-overtime contest against Milwaukee in 2008.
  • Four YSU starters finished with at least four fouls. The Penguins' bench was forced to play 54 minutes, and it was outscored 32-8. YSU's bench is being outscored 73-22 over the first two games of the season.
  • YSU attempted 36 free throws, which was the most in a contest since 38 against High Point in the second game of the 2009-10 season.
  • Schlegel was 3-for-5 from the field in the second half, but none of her teammates shot better than 33 percent.
  • The Penguins had a starter commit at least 10 turnovers for the second consecutive game. Karen Flagg had 12 turnovers against Buffalo after Liz Hornberger had 10 in the opener against VCU.
  • The Penguins held a 47-35 edge in rebounding and are out-rebounding opponents by an average of eight per game. YSU was minus-2.1 in rebounding margin last season. Interestingly, Youngstown State was 13-0 when outrebounding its opponent last year.
  • Four different Penguins – Karen Flagg, Liz Hornberger, Heidi Schlegel and Latisha Walker – had nine rebounds apiece. The nine by Hornberger were a career-high, and all nine came on the defensive end.

The Barnes-Plitzuweit Connection

YSU head coach John Barnes and NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit have a history of more than two decades. Both coaches graduated from Michigan Tech in 1995, and they went on to coach against each other in the GLIAC for four seasons from 2003-07. Barnes's Michigan Tech teams went 6-4 against Plitzuweit's teams from Grand Valley State from 2003-07. The pair then coached together at Michigan in 2011-12.

YSU Hoping to Flip Script

YSU is hoping to have a role-reversal from last season with Northern Kentucky. The Penguins were 4-0 and the Norse were 0-4 when NKU won 66-64 at the buzzer. YSU is 0-2 this season while NKU is 2-1.

YSU Rebounding Well

YSU has averaged 47.5 rebounds over the first two games and is plus-8.0 in rebounding margin. The Guins had 48 rebounds in the season opener against VCU and 47 versus Buffalo. YSU averaged 34 rebounds last season. The last time YSU had at least 45 rebounds in back-to-back games was the first two contests of 2004-05.