Penguins Bounce Back in Big Way, Top Milwaukee 87-64

Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Indiya Benjamin (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team had its highest scoring first half in more than a dozen years and shot 59 percent to beat Milwaukee 87-64 on Saturday afternoon at Beeghly Center.

The Penguins, who had lost back-to-back games by one possession, held a 22-point lead at halftime and were up by 31 (85-54) with 7:47 left.

Heidi Schlegel scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, and the senior forward made her last seven field-goal attempts. Three other Penguins finished in double figures as Indiya Benjamin had 18, Kelsea Newman had 15 and Jenna Hirsch had 12. All of Benjamin's 18 points came in the first half.

Youngstown State is now 15-5 overall and 4-3 in Horizon League play. Milwaukee drops to 7-13, 3-5.

For the game, the Guins shot 59.2 percent making 29-of-49 shots after knocking down 12-of-18 shots (66.7 percent) in the second half. Milwaukee made 25-of-61 shots (41 percent) on the afternoon. Both teams connected on 11 3-pointers.

Schlegel was 7-of-12 on her field goals and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. Benjamin was 5-of-7, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Only one Penguin played more than 30 minutes, and that was Hirsch off the bench. For UWM, Ashley Green led the way with 13 points, almost seven below her average of 19.8 points coming into the contest.

Both teams were shooting better than 53 percent in the first eight minutes, and YSU's lead was 20-19 at the 12:10 mark. The Penguins outscored the Panthers 31-10 the rest of the period and finished the half with a 54.8 percent to 37.9 percent edge from the field.

Newman's 3-pointer with 11:56 left started the big Penguins spurt, and Benjamin's four-point play less than a minute later extended the lead to 27-19. The freshman point guard's free throw at the 8:50 mark gave YSU a 32-22 advantage, its first by double digits, and the Penguins pulled away by holding the Panthers scoreless for six-and-a-half minutes. YSU turned a 37-27 lead into a 49-27 advantage during that spell, and Schlegel's two free throws with 2.5 seconds left a 51-29 lead at halftime.

Benjamin had all 16 points of her first-half points in the first 14 minutes, and Newman also had 10 points in the period. Jordyn Swan led Milwaukee with eight points in the first half.

The Penguins are next in action at Wright State on Thursday. Tipoff for the contest is set for noon.