YSU Hosts Oakland Wednesday in Horizon League Tournament

YSU Hosts Oakland Wednesday in Horizon League Tournament
Youngstown State vs. Oakland
Date & Time Wednesday, March 12, at 7:05 p.m.
Location Beeghly Center (Youngstown, Ohio)
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The third-seeded Youngstown State women's basketball team will host the sixth-seeded Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in Beeghly Center in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Horizon League Tournament. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio and the Horizon League Network.

The Penguins are hosting a quarterfinals contest for the second straight season after finishing 10-6 during league play and 14-15 overall under first-year head coach John Barnes. YSU started the season 1-6 and was 4-9 at the end of the non-conference season, but it won its first six league games en route to its second-best record in its 13 seasons in the league.

YSU clinched the home tournament game by beating Cleveland State 94-81 in the regular-season finale at Beeghly Center on Saturday. The Penguins had their highest scoring game in nine years in the victory, and they had five players score in double figures for the first time this season. Liz Hornberger made six 3-pointers and scored 22 points, and fellow senior Karen Flagg added 19 with six rebounds, five assists and four steals. YSU shot 52.7 percent overall, and it finished 14-of-29 from 3-point range after making 11 treys in the first half.

Heidi Schlegel is a First-Team All-Horizon League honoree as the conference's second-leading scorer with 20 points per game, and Hornberger led the league during conference play with 3.1 3-pointers per game. Monica Touvelle is the league's Sixth Player of the Year, and Jenna Hirsch was named to the All-Freshmen Team.

Oakland finished its first season in the Horizon League at 13-16 overall and 8-8 in conference play. Senior forward Bethany Watterworth is a second-team all-conference pick after averaging 18.3 points during league play, and All-Defensive Team honoree Kim Bee leads the conference in blocks. The Penguins and Golden Grizzlies split two games in the regular season with both teams winning at home. YSU won 79-64 on Jan. 25, and Oakland's 87-67 win came on Feb. 8.

The winner between YSU and Oakland will advance to play in the tournament semifinals on Friday against the winner of the game between Wright State and Milwaukee. Green Bay is the top seed in the tournament and would host the semifinals if it wins its game on Wednesday.

Top Story Lines

  • Heidi Schlegel is a First-Team All-Horizon League honoree, Monica Touvelle is the League's Sixth Player of the Year, and Jenna Hirsch earned All-Freshman accolades.
  • The Penguins earned back-to-back winning records in the Horizon League for the first time since joining the conference in 2001-02. Third place is its second-best finish, behind only last year's runner-up team.
  • The Penguins have their best scoring offense in 14 years, and they led the league during conference play with 9.1 3-pointers per game and a .387 3-point field-goal percentage.

Scouting Oakland

  • Oakland finished its first season in the Horizon League 13-16 overall and 8-8 in league play. The Golden Grizzlies beat Milwaukee 79-66 in the regular season finale on Saturday. OU was fifth in the league in scoring offense and third in scoring defense.
  • The Golden Grizzlies lead the league in blocks behind All-Defensive Team member Kim Bee. Second-Team All-League forward Bethany Watterworth averaged 18.3 points during league play. Elena Popkey adds 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

This Season vs. Oakland

  • The two games this season between YSU and Oakland were almost exact opposites.
  • In the first meeting at Beeghly Center, Youngstown State led 18-2 and by as many as 25 early in the second half before Oakland rallied to cut the margin to six with 7:56 left. YSU went on an 11-1 run to push the lead back to 16 and won 79-64.
  • At the O'Rena, Oakland scored 12 straight points early in the first half to go ahead 19-8. Oakland led by as many as 16 in the first 10 minutes, and YSU was able to get within six twice in the second half. Oakland outscored YSU 23-9 over the final seven minutes.

Series with Oakland

  • Oakland leads the all-time series 7-4 against YSU. The Penguins won the first three meetings in 1999 and 2000, but the Golden Grizzlies won six straight before. The teams were members of the Mid-Continent Conference from 1998-2001 but never played in the postseason.
  • YSU won 79-64 at Beeghly Center on Jan. 25. Oakland beat YSU 87-67 on Feb. 8.

Recapping Cleveland State

Youngstown State scored its most points in 10 years and made a season-high 14 3-pointers in a 94-81 win over Cleveland State in the regular-season finale on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

The win gave the Penguins the third seed in the Horizon League Tournament and improved their league record to 10-6. Cleveland State dropped to 14-15 overall and 9-7 in league play.

YSU's four seniors combined for 57 points on senior day. Liz Hornberger made six 3-pointers and scored a game-high-tying 22 points, and Karen Flagg had 18 with six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

The Penguins were 11-for-20 from long distance in the first half and went on a 21-7 run to take a 32-18 lead. They led by 14 three different times in the period, and the margin was at least seven until there was 3:30 left in regulation. YSU made 12 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

3's Were Big Story

YSU made a season-high 14 3-pointers in the win over the Vikings. The Penguins made 11-of-20 from 3-point range in the first half, including five in a 21-6 run that put them ahead 32-18. Liz Hornberger had two triples during that stretch and matched her career high with six in the game. Jenna Hirsch made three 3s, Kelsea Newman and Monica Touvelle made two, and Heidi Schlegel sank one. It was just the eighth time in school history that the Penguins made at least 14 3-pointers in a game.

Five Score in Double Figures

Youngstown State had five players score in double figures for the first time this season. Liz Hornberger tied for game-high honors with 22 points, Karen Flagg had 18, Heidi Schlegel had 17, Jenna Hirsch had 12 and Melissa Thompson had 11. The last time the Penguins had five players reach double figures was in the first round of the WNIT against Indiana State on March 21, 2013.

Odds & Ends

The Penguins had their most points in a home game since a 95-78 win over UMKC on Jan. 18, 1999... The last time they scored 90 was at IPFW on Nov. 13, 2011... It was their most points since scoring 97 against the Mastodons on Jan. 18, 2005... YSU won on Senior Day for the third time in the last four years... All four seniors started the same game for the first time in their careers... The Penguins beat the Vikings for the fourth time in five tries... YSU had not made 14 3s in a game since making a school-record 16 at Loyola on Feb. 11, 2012... YSU tied a season high with 23 assists (also against Ohio Valley) on 29 field goals... Hornberger made five 3-pointers in the first half, including the 190th of her career... Flagg tied her career high with four steals... Schlegel had five assists for the second straight game.

Three Earn All-Horizon League Honors

  • Heidi Schlegel became the third Penguin to earn First-Team All-Horizon League honors since YSU joined the conference in 2001-02. Schlegel ranked second in the league in scoring with 20 points, up from an average of 9.8 last year, and she also ranked fifth in rebounding. Her 17 20-point games were the second-most in the conference, and her nine double-doubles ranked third.
  • Monica Touvelle was voted the league's Sixth Player of the Year. She ranks fifth in the Horizon League in 3-point percentage at .389, and she maintained a similar consistency in league play at .387, which ranks eighth. She's made 177 3-pointers in her career.
  • Jenna Hirsch was named to the All-Freshman Team after being forced into major minutes in her first season. She's averaged 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists since making her first start on Dec. 13. She ranked second among league freshmen in assists and minutes while also ranking fourth in points and rebounds.

Back-To-Back Quarterfinals at Beeghly Center

  • Youngstown State is hosting a Horizon League Tournament Quarterfinals game for the second straight season, which is shows that it has steadily become one of the top programs in the Horizon League.
  • In 2011-12, although the Penguins were 4-14 for the second straight year, seven of their final 10 losses were by five points or fewer. They also took Green Bay to overtime in a loss when the Phoenix was ranked 11th in the country.
  • In 2012-13, YSU had its best record to date in the Horizon League by finishing 11-5. The Penguins finished second in the conference and advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time. YSU also earned the league's automatic bid to the WNIT.
  • This year, YSU finished with its second-best record during conference play at 10-6. The Penguins' 21 league wins over the past two years is almost as much as their combined 22 league wins over the previous six years combined.

Senior Class's Legacy

  • While there is still plenty of time to add to its legacy, the Penguins' senior class has been a key part of the significant improvement of the program.
  • The class has been a part of 53 wins, including 28 Horizon League victories, over the last four years. While those totals are modest, they are the highest for a YSU class since the seniors in 2001-02 ended their careers with 64 overall wins and 36 conference wins.
  • Melissa Thompson is a fifth-year senior and is the last remaining member of the program who was part of the winless 2009-10 campaign. Thompson and Monica Touvelle signed their National Letters of Intent while Cindy Martin was head coach, played three years under Bob Boldon and one with John Barnes. Liz Hornberger signed after Boldon was hired, and Karen Flagg transferred to YSU from Daytona State prior to last season.

Statistically, The Best Offense in a Decade

  • Statistically, Youngstown State's offense is the best it has been in at least a decade. YSU's 70.4 points per game scoring average is the best since 1999-00, and the .404 shooting percentage is the best since 2001-02. Below is a chart showing what statistical categories YSU has been notably improved in this season.

Scoring Balance Has Been Key

  • While Heidi Schlegel has done the bulk of the scoring load for YSU, accounting for 28.4 percent of the team's points, offensive balance has been a strength this season.
  • Nine of YSU's 12 active players have scored in double figures this season, and the three who haven't all average fewer than seven minutes per game. YSU is 14-6 when at least three players reach double figures in a game. The last time more than nine Penguins reached double figures at least once in a season was 2003-04.
  • YSU also has six different players who average at least six points. That ties for the most on a YSU team since the 1982-83 squad had seven players who averaged at least six points.

Assistance From All Angles

  • YSU is averaging 15.4 assists per game this season, which is the most in nine seasons. It had averaged less than 13.2 assists in five straight seasons entering this season.
  • The Penguins have three players who have posted at least 90 assists for the first time in 22 years. Liz Hornberger has a team-high 103 assists, Karen Flagg has 93, and Jenna Hirsch has registered 90. All three of those players have more assists than turnovers.