Women's Basketball Returns Home to Host Bucknell on Tuesday Night

Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Youngstown State vs. Bucknell
Date & Time Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m.
Location Beeghly Center
Tickets YSU Athletic Ticket Office | (330) 941-1YSU
Radio 570 WKBN
Video ESPN3 (MyYTV on Delay)
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Scouting Report

  • The Youngstown State women's basketball team will try to improve to 4-0 for the second time in the last three years when it hosts Bucknell on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Beeghly Center. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN, iHeartRadio and ESPN3, and MyYTV will air the game on tape-delay.
  • YSU is coming off a 70-44 victory over Radford in which the Penguins held the Highlanders to 27.4 percent shooting. That percentage, as well as the 44 points, were new defensive bests for the Penguins in the Coach John Barnes era.
  • Latisha Walker had six blocks at Radford, which is tied for the fourth most in a game in program history. YSU had eight blocks as a team, the eighth-most for a game in school history. The Penguins had three blocks combined in their first two games.
  • YSU has already won two more games than it did last November, and it has been drastically better both offensively and defensively. YSU is plus-22.3 in scoring margin so far after being minus-12.8 last November.
  • YSU returns three starters but just five letter winners from last year's squad. Heidi Schlegel is a preseason First-Team All-Horizon League pick after averaging 20 points in 2013-14. The Penguins have a Horizon League high seven freshmen on the roster.

On This Date

  • Youngstown State is 4-6 all-time in games played on Nov. 25. The Penguins have won each of their last two games on Nov. 25 – a 64-50 win at Loyola Marymount in 2011 and a 76-56 win at Miami (Ohio) in 2012.
  • Brandi Brown scored the 1,000th point of her career in the win at Loyola Marymount in 2011.

Scouting Bucknell

  • Bucknell is 2-1 this season with one-point wins at Bowling Green and at Fairleigh Dickinson. The Bison's loss was a 68-61 setback at Michigan.
  • All five Bison starters average between 11.3 and 7.7 points. Claire Maree O'Bryan averages a team-high 11.3 points, and Audrey Dotson contributes 10.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
  • Bucknell was picked to finish third and received two first-place votes in the Patriot League preseason poll, and Dotson was voted preseason second-team all-conference.

Series with Bucknell

  • YSU is 6-2 all-time against Bucknell with a series that dates back to 1989. The Bison won the first meeting, and they beat the Penguins 66-41 last year in Lewisburg, Pa.
  • YSU is 4-0 against the Bison at Beeghly Center. One of those wins was a memorable 71-57 triumph on Nov. 24, 2010, that stopped a 34-game losing streak.
  • Only one of the eight games in the series has been decided by single digits. YSU rallied from a 17-point second half deficit on Nov. 16, 2011, to win 57-56 at Bucknell.

Last Time vs. Bucknell

  • YSU had its worst offensive performance of the 2013-14 season in a 66-41 loss at Bucknell on Nov. 26, 2013. The 41 points were the lowest of the season, and YSU shot a season-worst 23.1 percent.
  • Youngstown State went scoreless for more than 11 minutes and missed 14 consecutive shots in the first half, which led to a 22-4 deficit.

Recapping Radford

YSU blocked eight shots and held its second straight opponent under 50 points in a 70-44 victory at Radford on Saturday.

The Penguins allowed just 22 points in each half and held Radford to 27.4 percent shooting in the game. Latisha Walker had six of those eight blocks and added 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 16 minutes.

YSU did not trail the entire game and led by double digits for the final 15 minutes. The Penguins led 18-5 after 10 minutes and outscored Radford 10-3 over the final six minutes of the first half after the Highlanders got back within one.

Quick Notes

  • YSU beat a team from the Big South for the first time ever while improving to 2-0 in games played in Virginia.
  • YSU had its largest margin of victory on the road since beating Chicago State by 33 on Feb. 10, 2000. The last time YSU beat a non-conference team on the road by more than 26 points was at Robert Morris (77-50) on Dec. 21, 1993.
  • Latisha Walker's six blocks were the most in a game by a Penguin since Tara Fleming's six at Xavier on Dec. 31, 2004.
  • Freshman Indiya Benjamin had game highs of 16 points and six assists in 36 minutes. Her jumper with 5:47 left in the first half stopped a 14-2 Radford run, and she made two 3s 13-0 spurt by the Penguins that put them up by 19 with 12 minutes left.
  • After forcing just two turnovers and not having a steal in the first half, the Penguins had seven steals and forced 11 turnovers in the second half.

Off to Much Better Start in 2014-15

  • The start to 2014-15 has gone supremely better for YSU than the start to 2013-14, which was Coach John Barnes' first season.
  • The Penguins have already surpassed the number of Division I non-conference wins that they had last year, outscoring opponents by an average of 22.3 points in the process. YSU is 3-0 for the second time in the last three years. The Penguins were 1-4 last November.
  • YSU was 4-9 in non-conference play last season with wins over non-Division I programs Ohio Valley and Malone. The Penguins didn't have their second win over a Division I team until Dec. 21 against Vermont.
  • YSU is averaging 73.7 points through the first three games of 2014-15 and has scored at least 68 points in each. The Penguins didn't reach 68 points until their eighth game last year and didn't score 68 against a Division I team until the win over Vermont on Dec. 21.
  • The Penguins ended up hitting their stride at the start of Horizon League play last year when they won their first six conference games. From the start of league play last year to the present, YSU is 14-7 over its last 21 games.

Balanced Scoring Prevalent Early

  • YSU has been very balanced in the scoring column in its first three games this year.
  • The Penguins have had a different leading scorer in each of their games so far, and a freshman has led them in scoring twice. Freshman Nikki Arbanas was the top scorer in the opener against Niagara with 25 points, which is the highest output by a Penguin this season. Senior Heidi Schlegel led with 15 points at Kent State, and freshman Indiya Benjamin had a team-best 16 points at Radford.
  • All five of YSU's starters have reached double figures at least once, and Kelsea Newman had 14 points off the bench at Radford.
  • YSU has four players averaging double figures, up from two last year, and six are averaging at least seven.

Freshman Guards Shining

  • Freshman starting guards Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin have been in the spotlight in the first three games of their careers.
  • Arbanas scored 25 points while making 8-of-9 of her field goal attempts in her debut against Niagara. She was named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week for her performance. For the year, Arbanas is averaging 11.7 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 58.8 percent from the field.
  • Benjamin is the first Penguin in 13 years (Jen Perugini) to score in double figures in the first three games of her freshman year. She's increased her scoring each game, going from 11 points to 14 to a game-high 16 at Radford/ Benjmain is averaging 13.7 points and 5.0 assists, and she leads the Horizon League with a 5.0-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Program on the Rise

  • YSU has been on a definite upward trend over the last four years. The Penguins have finished in the top three in the Horizon League and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons.
  • Last year, YSU finished with its second-best record since joining the Horizon League in 2001-02 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.
  • 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.

Walker: The Blocker

  • Senior forward Latisha Walker had six blocks at Radford on Saturday, which is tied for the fourth most in a game in program history. She had five of those blocks in the first nine minutes as YSU built an 18-5 lead.
  • The last player to block at least six shots in a game was Tara Fleming at Xavier on Dec. 31, 2004. Walker's previous high for a game was three.
  • Walker, a transfer from Xavier, has blocked 42 shots in her 34 career games at Youngstown State. Her total ranks as the 18th-most in program history, and 1.2 blocks per game average is second-best.

Seven Freshmen on Roster

  • Youngstown State has seven talented true freshmen on its roster who come to YSU with tons of collective accolades. Five of the seven players finished their careers as their high school's all-time scoring leader, and four were named first-team all-state. Additionally, three players led their high school teams to their best seasons in more than two decades, and Kelley Wright posted the most varsity wins in Michigan's history.
  • No other team in the Horizon League or Ohio has seven true freshmen on its roster. Six of the other eight schools in the Horizon League have four or fewer true freshmen, and seven of the other 12 schools in Ohio have four or fewer true freshmen.
  • Youngstown State has seven true freshmen on its roster for the fifth time in its 40-year history. The last time seven freshmen were on the same team was 1994-95, and three of those seven freshmen – Colleen Cook, Caroline McCombs and Ann Marie Martin – are now in YSU's Athletics Hall of Fame. The other three seasons with seven freshmen on the roster are 1988-89, 1985-86 and 1977-78.
  • Before Indiya Benjamin and Nikki Arbanas started the season opener, the last time YSU had two freshmen in the starting lineup was March 6, 2010, at Milwaukee (Brandi Brown and Maryum Jenkins). The last time YSU had three freshmen start was Feb. 28, 2009, at UIC (Camisha Alexander, Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey).

3-Pointers Integral Part of Offense

  • YSU has made at least 200 3-pointers in four straight seasons, including 234 last season. Prior to the last four seasons, the highest season total was 199. YSU is one of just 22 programs in the country to have made at least 200 in each of the last four seasons.
  • The Penguins shot 34.1 percent from beyond the arc last season, which was its best percentage since the 2004-05 season. They are shooting 39.4 percent from distance this season while averaging 9.3 triples per game.
  • The Penguins were really zoned in from distance in league play. The Guins led the conference during league play with 9.1 3-pointers per game while shooting 38.7 percent. The Guins averaged 6.1 3s and shot 29.6 percent from the arc during the 2013-14 non-conference season.