Defense Strong Again as YSU Beats Radford, 70-44

Latisha Walker (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Latisha Walker (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Radford, Virginia -- The Youngstown State women's basketball team flexed its defensive muscles again on Saturday while maintaining a balanced offense in a 70-44 victory over Radford at the Dedmon Center.

The Penguins allowed just 22 points in each half and held Radford to 27.4 percent shooting in the game. They blocked eight shots, tied for the eighth-most in program history, and Latisha Walker became the first YSU player in 10 years to block six shots in a game.

Youngstown State is now 3-0 for the second time in the last three years, while Radford drops to 1-2.

Walker added 12 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes to her stat line against a big Radford frontcourt. Indiya Benjamin led the Penguins with 16 points and six assists, and Kelsea Newman finished with 14 points off the bench. Both Benjamin and Newman hit four 3s, and Nikki Arbanas made one as YSU went 9-for-20 from beyond the arc. Virginia and Norfolk State, Radford's first two opponents, combined to go 2-for-28 from 3-point range.

Radford missed its first nine shots, with three of those coming on blocks, but it trailed just 5-2 upon making its first bucket five minutes into the game. Walker 's field goal at the 13:11 started a stretch where YSU scored on four straight possessions, and a pair of 3s by Newman and a triple from Benjamin put the Penguins ahead 16-5. Newman added a layup with 10:01 left in the first half to stretch the lead to 13 and cap an eight-point run.

Radford went on a 14-2 run to get within one at 20-19 at the 6:14 mark, but YSU outscored the Highlanders 10-3 the rest of the half. Benjamin stopped the run with a jumper, and a Heidi Schlegel free throw put YSU up 30-20 with just over a minute remaining. Rachael Ross's eighth point of the first half got Radford within eight at the break.

YSU scored 13 straight points from the 16:25 mark to the 11:14 mark of the second half to go up 45-26, and Radford got no closer than 13 the rest of the game. Benjamin started that run with a 3-pointer off a Sarah Cash offensive rebound, and Newman finished it. Two Walker free throws put YSU ahead by 20 for the first time with 9:47 left, and the largest lead was the final margin.

Youngstown State shot 41.7 percent overall, 45 percent from 3-point range and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line. The Penguins held a 44-40 edge in rebounding, and they held Radford to three offensive boards in the second half after surrendering 12 in the first 20 minutes. YSU outscored Radford 28-14 in the paint, 16-7 off turnovers and 13-4 off offensive rebounds.

Youngstown State will return to Beeghly Center to host Bucknell on Tuesday at 7 p.m.