Penguins Face Wright State in Horizon League Semifinals

Penguins Face Wright State in Horizon League Semifinals
Youngstown State vs. Wright State
Date & Time Friday, March 14, at 6 p.m. Eastern
Location Kress Events Center (Green Bay, Wis.)
Radio 1390 WNIO | iHeartRadio
Video Horizon League Network
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The third-seeded Youngstown State women's basketball team will face the second-seeded Wright State Raiders in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament on Friday evening at Green Bay's Kress Events Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio and the Horizon League Network.

The Penguins clinched a berth in the tournament semifinals for the second straight season by beating sixth-seeded Oakland 68-64 in Youngstown on Wednesday. YSU held Oakland to 23.1 percent shooting in the first half and made key plays in the second half to hold off the Golden Grizzlies. YSU went on a 10-2 run after Oakland took its first lead of the second half, and it kept OU scoreless over the final 1:54. Two Heidi Schlegel free throws tied the score at 64 with 1:25 left, and Melissa Thompson scored the go-ahead bucket and free throw with 34.7 seconds remaining.

Thompson finished with a career-high 15 points while going 7-for-8 from the field, and she added a season-best nine rebounds. Schlegel, a First-Team All-Horizon League selection, scored a game-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists, and Liz Hornberger added 11. Hornberger also tied YSU's career 3-pointers record by making the 198th of her career.

The Penguins are 15-15 overall after starting the season 1-6 and being 4-9 in non-conference play. They won their first six league games en route to their second-best record in their 13 seasons in the league at 10-6, and they've reached the tournament semifinals for the second time. John Barnes has already set a school record by most wins by a first-year head coach.

Wright State was 23-8 overall during the regular season and 12-4 in conference play to earn the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Behind Horizon League Player of the Year Kim Demmings, Wright State leads the conference in scoring average by 8.2 points per game. Through the end of the regular season, the Raiders led the country in turnover margin and were sixth in points per game.

If Youngstown State advances, it would play in the Horizon League Championship against either top-seeded Green Bay or No. 4 UIC on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern at the Kress Events Center.

Top Story Lines

  • YSU has been a program on the rise the past two seasons. It is in the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals for the second straight year after winning one league tournament game total in its first 11 years in the conference.
  • 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 Wright State

Wright State has a 24-8 record and is in the semifinals by beating seventh-seeded Milwaukee 73-64 in Dayton on Wednesday. The Raiders had a rare struggle on the offensive end, shooting 31.1 percent from the field and going 2-for-21 from 3-point range.

The Raiders have the best scoring offense in the Horizon League at 83.4 points per game, and they lead the country in turnover margin. Junior guard Kim Demmings is the league's player of the year after averaging a conference-best 22.5 points per game. Ivory James, who averages 17.5 points, joined Demmings on the all-league team

This Season vs. Wright State

Wright State is the only team in the Horizon League that YSU did not beat during the regular season. The Raiders were 14-for-28 from 3-point range to outgun the Penguins in a 93-81 win at the Nutter Center on Feb. 5. Wright State then built a 19-point lead at halftime in the game in Youngstown on March 5.

Heidi Schlegel averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds in the two meetings against Wright State during the regular season, and Kelsea Newman made five 3s both times.

Series with Wright State

Wright State holds a slight 26-23 edge in a series that dates back to 1979. YSU beat its old Mid-Continent Conference foe 18 of the first 22 times, but Wright State won 20 of the next 23.

YSU swept the Raiders last season, but Wright State won the first two meetings this season.

Recapping Oakland

Youngstown State held Oakland scoreless for the final 1:50, and Melissa Thompson scored the go-ahead basket with 35.9 seconds remaining to lift the Penguins to a 68-64 win over the Golden Grizzlies in the Horizon League Tournament Quarterfinals on Wednesday evening at Beeghly Center.

Thompson scored her career-high 15th point when she completed her three-point play that put YSU ahead 67-64. Oakland missed two 3-pointers on its next trip down the floor, and Heidi Schlegel split two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to seal the win.

Schlegel led all scorers with 21 points, and her 10th rebound of the game led to her free throw in the final seconds. Liz Hornberger added 11 points and made three 3-pointers to move into a tie for YSU's career record.

Oakland started 3-of-25 from the field, and YSU had runs of 7-0 and 11-2 in the first half to lead by as many as 12 points. The Golden Grizzlies scored nine straight points to go up 47-45 with 10:50 left, but the Penguins scored 10 of the next 12 to take a 55-49 lead. Oakland led 62-61 and 64-62, but it had just one field goal in the final five minutes. Thompson's bucket was YSU's only field goal in that span.

Thompson's Offense Saved the Day

Fifth-year senior Melissa Thompson saved the best offensive game of her career for one of her biggest games. She scored a career-high 15 points while adding nine rebounds in 36 minutes. She missed her first field goal attempt at the 6:57 mark of the first half, and she wasn't off the mark again. She made her next seven shots, including five in the final 6:30 of the first half. Her 10th point of the game gave the Penguins their largest lead at 31-19 at the 1:43 mark. She scored at the 18:30 mark of the first half, but she didn't take another shot until the game-winning bucket in with 35.9 seconds left.

Walker Was an X-Factor

Redshirt junior Latisha Walker was a big factor for the Penguins in the second half. In six minutes in the period, Walker scored eight points, grabbed two rebounds, blocked a shot and altered several others. She scored six points in four possessions for the Penguins once Oakland took a 49-47 lead with 10:18 remaining.

Odds & Ends

YSU had its smallest margin of victory this season... Both teams made 26 field goals, but Oakland attempted 25 more... Schlegel scored at least 20 points for the 18th time and had five assists for the third straight game... Newman tied her career high with three assists... Oakland outscored YSU 17-4 on second-chance points and held a 17-3 edge in offensive rebounds... YSU's had 21 assists, its most ever during the Horizon League Tournament... After Oakland started 3-of-25, it shot 43.4 percent the rest of the game.