Penguins Go For 3-0 Start in First Trip to Radford

Kelsea Newman (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Kelsea Newman (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Youngstown State at Radford
Date & Time Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.
Location Dedmon Center
Video Big South Network
Live Tweets @YSUsports | @YSUWomensHoops | @javogel34
Hash Tags #GoGuins | #HLWBB
Mobile App YSU Front Row


Scouting Report

  • The Youngstown State women's basketball team will make just its second trip ever to Virginia when it plays at Radford on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on and the Big South Network.
  • YSU is off to a 2-0 start for the second time in three years following a 68-49 win at Kent State on Tuesday. The 19-point margin of victory tied for the highest ever in 40 meetings with the Golden Flashes, and it followed a 22-point victory over Niagara in the season opener.
  • The Penguins dominated the final 22 minutes with Kent State, outscoring their nearby rivals by 23 points in that span. They held the Golden Flashes to 11 points in the first 17 minutes of the second half.
  • YSU is averaging 75.5 points through the first two games this season. The Penguins averaged averaged 59.4 points in five November games last season, which was the first under Coach John Barnes.
  • 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.

A Win Would...

  • Give YSU a 3-0 start for the second time in three years
  • Be YSU's first over a team from the Big South Conference
  • Improve YSU to 3-2 all-time against teams from Virginia

On This Date

  • Youngstown State is 4-2 all-time on Nov. 22 but has lost its last two decisions on the date. All six of the games were played in Ohio.
  • YSU is 2-0 on the road on Nov. 22, which includes wins at Bowling Green in 2002 and at Ohio in 2005.

Scouting Radford

  • Radford is 1-1 this season with a 75-47 loss at Virginia and a 74-65 overtime victory over Norfolk State.
  • Ayana Avery had 22 points in the win over Norfolk State and is averaging 12.5 points and three assists. There are four HIghlighters who are averaging at least six rebounds.
  • Opponents are shooting just 2-for-28 from 3-point range against Radford, but they are shooting 46.7 percent from inside the arc.
  • Radford, which went 7-23 last season, was picked to finish ninth in the Southland Preseason Poll.

Series with Radford

  • YSU and Radford have never played in women's basketball.

Record vs. Virginia Teams

  • Youngstown State is 2-2 all-time against teams from Virginia, and it is 1-0 all-time in games played in the Commonwealth.
  • The Penguins won at VCU on Jan. 4, 2013, in their only game in the state. All-time, YSU is 1-1 against VCU, 1-0 against Virginia Tech and 0-1 versus James Madison.

Record vs. Big South Teams

  • YSU is 0-2 all-time against team from the Big South Conference, with both losses coming in the last six seasons and both coming at neutral sites.
  • Youngstown State lost 73-50 to High Point at Elon in the second game of the 2009-10 season, and it dropped a 50-46 contest to Winthrop at Stetson in 2010-11.

Recapping Kent State

YSU showcased its defense and dominated the second half against Kent State in a 68-49 win over the Golden Flashes on Tuesday. The 19-point margin of victory tied for YSU's largest in its 40-game history with Kent State.

The Penguins used a 24-7 run to turn a 25-21 deficit into a 45-32 advantage with 13:26 remaining, and YSU led by double digits for the final 11 minutes. YSU made eight of its final 13 attempts from 3-point range as it pulled away.

Schlegel finished with a game-high 15 points, and Benjamin posted a career-high 14. Latisha Walker and Newman both finished with nine, and YSU shot 58.3 percent in the second half to finish at 50 percent for the game.

Quick Notes

  • YSU held Kent State to opponent to two points over more than eight minutes in the second half. That allowed the Penguins to go up by as many as 23.
  • Kelsea Newman made two 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the first half as YSU went from down 25-21 to up 31-27. YSU was 2-for-13 from 3-point range before Newman's pair of treys.
  • A Kent State starter hit a 3-pointer on its final possession to get the margin under 20.
  • YSU won at Kent State for the first time since 1996 and snapped a five-game losing streak to the Golden Flashes.
  • Sarah Cash, a walk-on from nearby Lordstown, held her own in 15 minutes as Latisha Walker battled foul trouble. Cash finished with four points and three rebounds.

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 matched the number of Division I non-conference wins that they had last year, outscoring opponents by an average of 20.5 points in the process. YSU is 2-0 for the second time in the last three years.
  • 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 75.5 points through the first two games of 2014-15, scoring 83 points against Niagara and 68 against Kent State. The Penguins didn't reach 68 points until their eighth game last year, and they didn't score 68 against a Division I opponent 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 13-7 over its last 20 games.

Freshman Guards Shining Early

  • Freshman starting guards Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin have been in the spotlight in the first two games of their careers.
  • Arbanas scored 25 points while making 8-of-9 of her field goal attempts in her debut against Niagara, and she followed that up with seven points at Kent State. She leads the Horizon League with a .643 shooting percentage.
  • Benjamin has scored in double figures in both games, posting 11 points against Niagara and 14 versus Kent State. Benjamin has nine assists without committing a turnover in the first 62 minutes of her collegiate career. She has scored or assisted on all of YSU's fast-break points this season.

Schlegel Picks Up Where She Left Off

  • Senior forward Heidi Schlegel has been her steady self through the first two games, averaging 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting 52.2 percent. She scored 18 points with 14 rebounds against Niagara, and she had 15 points and nine rebounds versus Kent State. Schlegel averaged 20 points last season with remarkable consistency, scoring between 20 and 28 points 19 times.
  • Schlegel has also been very solid in other areas. She had three steals while matching her career high with five assists against Niagara, and she added two more assists against Kent State.

Arbanas Named Horizon Freshman of the Week

  • Nikki Arbanas received the Horizon League's first Freshman-of-the-Week award of 2014-15 with her 25-point effort against Niagara.
  • Arbanas shot a blistering 88.9 percent from the field against the Purple Eagles. She was a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range to become the first Penguin in 18 years to shoot 100 percent on at least five attempts. Arbanas was also 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
  • Arbanas' 25 points is tied for the seventh-most by a freshman in YSU's Division I era, and it's the most by any freshman since 1995. She also had the most points by a freshman in a season opener since at least 1978.

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.

Offense Flourished in Barnes' First Season

  • Statistically, Youngstown State's offense last season was the program's best in at least a decade. Among the highlights, YSU's 70.3 points per game scoring average was the best since 1999-00, and the .404 shooting percentage was the best since 2001-02.
  • After a rough five-game November where YSU shot 33 percent and averaged 59.4 points, it shot 41.9 percent while averaging 72.4 points over the season's final four months.

Schlegel Returns After Breakout Season

  • After a breakout junior season, Youngstown State senior Heidi Schlegel has been named Preseason First-Team All-Horizon League in the conference poll and by College Sports Madness.
  • Schlegel averaged 20 points and 8.0 rebounds to earn First-Team All-Horizon League honors in 2013-14. She surpassed 1,000 career points last year, and she set new school records with 192 free throws made and 238 free throws attempted. Her 19 20-point games were the most by a Penguin in 26 years, and the 621 points she scored were the fifth-most in school history.
  • Schlegel ranked second in the Horizon League in scoring while also ranking third in double-doubles, fifth in rebounding and ninth in field-goal percentage last season. She averaged 9.4 points per game over her first three seasons, which included a medical redshirt season in 2010-11.

Five Other Returners

  • In addition to Schlegel, there are five other returners on Youngstown State's roster. Latisha Walker is the other senior on the squad, and she contributed 7.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 2013-14 in her first year as a transfer from Xavier.
  • Fourth-year junior guard Ashley Lawson averaged 9.7 minutes over 23 games, and sophomores Jenna Hirsch and Kelsea Newman were 3-point threats in their first years. Hirsch was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team while making 37 3-pointers, and Newman made 34.
  • Junior Janae Jackson is finally getting her first action as a Penguin after sitting out 2012-13 due to NCAA transfer requirements and 2013-14 with an injury.

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).

Penguins Picked Tied-For-Fourth in Preseason Poll

  • Youngstown State was tabbed to finish in a tie for fourth in the preseason poll of the Horizon League's coaches, sports information directors and select media. That was the second-highest preseason ranking for YSU in the Horizon League poll, behind only last season's third-place ranking.
  • Defending regular-season champion Green Bay was picked as the preseason favorite with 16 of 27 first-place votes, and defending tournament champion Wright State was picked second. Cleveland State was tabbed to finish third, and YSU and UIC tied for the fourth-most votes. Oakland was picked sixth in the poll, followed by Milwaukee, Valparaiso and Detroit.