YSU Travels to Valparaiso to Start Horizon League Play

YSU Travels to Valparaiso to Start Horizon League Play
Youngstown State at Valparaiso
Date & Time Thursday, Jan. 9, at 8:05 p.m. EST
Location Athletics Recreation Center (Valparaiso, Ind.)
Radio 570 WKBN | iHeartRadio
Video Horizon League Network
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The Youngstown State women's basketball team will start the second half of its season on Thursday as its opens Horizon League play at Valparaiso. Tipoff from the Athletics-Recreation Center is set for 8:05 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be covered live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio and the Horizon League Network.

The Penguins finished the non-league portion of its schedule with a 4-9 mark as they battled early injuries and inconsistency. YSU started 1-6, then won three of its next four before dropping its last two non-conference contests. Most recently, Youngstown State lost 66-57 to IUPUI at home on Saturday in a game in which they shot 45.3 percent but was plagued by lengthy scoring droughts. IUPUI went on a 13-2 run early in the first half to go up by nine, and YSU got within a possession on six occasions but never regained the lead. The Penguins did not score for a 7:13 stretch that spanned both halves, and they surrendered an 8-1 run after cutting the deficit to two points with 6:39 remaining.

Heidi Schlegel notched her eighth 20-point game of the non-conference season with 22 points against IUPUI, going 11-for-16 from the field for her best shooting game of the season. Liz Hornberger added a career-high 19 points, and Latisha Walker scored 10 points with six rebounds. Jenna Hirsch, who had averaged 11.2 points in her five games as the starting point guard, was held scoreless on an 0-for-7 shooting day.

Valparaiso went 2-11 in non-conference play with its two wins coming on back-to-back days against Chicago State and Toledo on Dec. 6-7. The Crusaders have six players who average at least 9.3 points, but they rank last in the conference with 61.5 points per game. They have lost their last four contests, including an 84-70 setback at Tulsa on Saturday.

Youngstown State will remain on the road to play UIC on Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern.

Top Story Lines

  • Youngstown State is starting Horizon League play at Valparaiso for the third time in six years. The Penguins lost at Valpo to start the 2008-09 and 2012-13 conference seasons.
  • In 13 games, Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League forward Heidi Schlegel has posted the eight highest scoring games of her career, ranging from 27 points to 22.
  • The Penguins had the Horizon League Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks. Jenna Hirsch was the honoree on Dec. 23, and Kelsea Newman was the honoree on Dec. 30.
  • Youngstown State started the season by playing eight of its first nine games at home. The Penguins are now in a stretch of playing five of six on the road.
  • 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 Valparaiso

Valparaiso is 2-11 against a tough non-conference schedule and enters Horizon League play with four consecutive losses. One of the Crusaders' victories came against Toledo, which beat YSU in the WNIT last year.

Valparaiso ranks last in the Horizon League with 61.5 points per game offensively, and the Crusaders allow the second-most points at 77.2 per game. Valpo shoots 79.2 percent from the free-throw line, which is fifth-best nationally.

The Crusaders have six players who average at least 9.3 points, and Charae Richardson leads Valpo with 12.5 points per game.

Last Time vs. Valparaiso

Youngstown State beat Valparaiso 72-50 in the final regular-season home game last year on March 4, 2013. YSU led by as many as 15 in the first half and led by double digits for the final 16:55. The Penguins' largest lead was 25.

Monica Touvelle made six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points, and Brandi Brown scored 18 points en route to reaching 2,000 for her career.

Series with Valparaiso

Youngstown State holds a 19-14 edge in the all-time series with Valparaiso that dates back to 1993. Both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference from 1992-2001, and only one of the 33 games in the series was a non-conference contest.

YSU has beaten Valpo in five of the last six meetings and are 7-5 since Valpo joined the Horizon League in 2007-08.

Recapping IUPUI

Youngstown State kept battling IUPUI but could never catch the Jaguars in a 66-57 loss on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

IUPUI used a 13-2 run in the first six minutes to go up 15-6 and led the rest of the contest. The Penguins got within one possession six times, and Liz Hornberger's 3-pointer with 6:39 remaining made the score 47-45. IUPUI scored eight of the next nine points to go up 55-46 and led by at least nine the rest of the way.

YSU's Heidi Schlegel led all players with 22 points, and Hornberger set a new career high with 19 points.

Lacking Scoring Depth

Of Youngstown State's 57 points against IUPUI, 51 came from three players – Heidi Schlegel (22), Liz Hornberger (19) and Latisha Walker (10). The other six players who appeared for the Penguins combined for six points on 3-for-20 shooting in 106 minutes.

Trimming Turnovers vs. IUPUI

Youngstown State committed 19 turnovers against IUPUI, but that was actually a significant improvement from the 2012-13 matchup. The Penguins committed 37 turnovers in a 58-57 win versus the Jaguars last December. IUPUI was forcing opponents into 19.9 turnovers per game and was plus-2.6 in turnover margin. YSU also forced 19 turnovers, with Heidi Schlegel's five steals playing a big part.

Scoring Droughts Were Damaging

YSU had prolonged scoring droughts in both halves against IUPUI that played a big part in the setback. The Penguins were down 28-27 when Ashley Lawson hit a jumper with 4:51 remaining in the first half, but they didn't score again until the 17:38 mark of the second half as IUPUI built a 36-27 lead. YSU also went scoreless from 16:36 to 10:58 in the second half.

Odds & Ends from IUPUI

YSU scored a season-high 11 fast-break points but got a season-worst four points from its reserves... YSU shot a season-low six free throws, and its .462 free-throw percentage was also a season worst... IUPUI attempted 12 free throws, the fewest by an opponent this season... YSU was outrebounded by 10, its largest deficit on the glass this season... Heidi Schlegel's five steals were the most by a Penguin in a game this season...YSU lost when shooting at least 45 percent for the first time since losing 65-63 to Butler in the final seconds on Feb. 4, 2012... YSU's 21 fouls were the most in a game since Dec. 4 against Miami (Ohio)... The Penguins were outscored by 11 at the free-throw line and didn't make their first free throw until the 10:58 mark of the second half.

Schlegel Emerges as One of League's Top Scorers

  • One of the biggest questions entering the 2013-14 season was who was going to replace 2013 Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown in the scoring column. Heidi Schlegel answered that pretty clearly.
  • Schlegel averaged 19.7 points during non-conference play with a total of 256 points in 13 games, which is just nine points behind Brown's total from last year. Schlegel has already scored more points than she did last season, and she is just five points shy of her highest total for a season (261 as a redshirt freshman).
  • Schlegel had eight 20-point efforts during YSU's 13 game non-conference schedule. The Wapakoneta, Ohio, native had eclipsed 20 points just once in 56 games coming into this season, and she scored more than 15 points just once last season.

Scoring Up Under Barnes

  • Despite the loss of Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown (20.1 ppg) and starting point guard Shar'Rae Davis (9.6 ppg) from last year's team, Youngstown State has upped its scoring by 1.6 points per game in 2013-14. YSU's average of 64.9 points per game is its highest since 2001-02.
  • YSU's shooting percentage is slightly down (38.8 percent to 37.8), and the Guins are making 1.9 fewer 3-pointers per game (8.0 to 6.1). They've offset that by averaging 2.2 more points from the free-throw line (12.2 to 14.4).
  • The Penguins are also playing at a faster pace under first-year head coach John Barnes. YSU is averaging 73.3 possessions per game, its most since 2002-03. The Penguins averaged just under 68 possessions per contest last season.

Ups and Downs in the Scoring Column

  • One of the biggest obstacles for Youngstown State this season has been inconsistent scoring from individuals.
  • The Penguins have had eight of their 12 active players score in double figures this season. Of those eight, six have gone on to have three points in the contest following a double-digit scoring performance. Only Heidi Schlegel (nine 10+ games) and Ashley Lawson (one) have not had the dramatic dropoff.
  • Liz Hornberger has been the most frequent Jekyll & Hyde player. She has scored in double figures five times, and she's also scored three points or fewer five times.

Back-to-Back Freshman-of-the-Week Awards

  • Youngstown State has had the Horizon League Freshman of the Week in each of the last two weeks. Jenna Hirsch earned the honor on Dec. 23, and Kelsea Newman is the reigning honoree. YSU and Green Bay are the only schools to have multiple players be named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week.
  • Hirsch averaged 9.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in YSU's three games from Dec. 16-22 and made her first three starts at point guard. She had 13 points in 46 minutes in the double-overtime win over Malone, and she set career highs with seven assists and seven rebounds in the other two games during the week.
  • Newman came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points at Akron on Dec. 29. She was 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. She added three offensive rebounds, an assist and a steal in 20 minutes.

Touvelle Back to Full Strength

  • Senior guard Monica Touvelle is back to full strength and played at least 28 minutes in five straight games before playing 18 in a tough matchup against IUPUI. She missed the first five games with a foot injury and played 16 minutes combined over the next two contests as she worked her way back.
  • Over the last six games, Touvelle is averaging eight points per game and has scored in double figures three times. She has made multiple 3-pointers in four of the six games and has shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Hirsch Playing Well at Point Guard

  • With preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League selection Shar'Rae Davis out for the season medically, freshman Jenna Hirsch has performed well as the starting point guard the last six games. Her presence in the line-up increases the overall athleticism in the lineup and allows Liz Hornberger to play her natural shooting guard position.
  • Despite a scoreless outing against IUPUI, she is averaging 9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a starter. She is YSU's third-best scorer over the last six games.
  • The Penguins have had a different starting point guard in each of the last four seasons – Macey Nortey in 2010-11, Kelsea Fickiesen in 2011-12 (supplanted Nortey, then transferred), Shar'Rae Davis and Hirsch.

Barnes, Crane Familiar with Horizon League

  • Although Youngstown State has five new members on its coaching staff, two have experience in the Horizon League. Head coach John Barnes spent the 2012-13 season as the top assistant coach at league champion Green Bay. Andy Crane, YSU's recruiting coordinator, was at Cleveland State last season.

YSU Picked Third in Horizon League Preseason Poll

  • Youngstown State was picked to finish third 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).
  • Heidi Schlegel and Shar'Rae Davis, who is out medically for the year, were voted Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League.