Penguins Head to Louisiana for WBI Semifinals Contest vs. Ragin' Cajuns

Jenna Hirsch and the Penguins will play in Louisiana for the first time in program history
Jenna Hirsch and the Penguins will play in Louisiana for the first time in program history
Youngstown State at Louisiana
Date & Time Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 6 p.m. ET
Location Cajundome - Lafayette, La.
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Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State will try to take down the defending Women's Basketball Invitational champions as it heads to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on Wednesday. Tipoff against the Ragin' Cajuns at the Cajundome is set for 6 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio and ragincajuns.com.
  • The Ragin' Cajuns are the top seed on the right side of the WBI bracket, and YSU is the second seed. The semifinal on the other side of the bracket is between No. 7 Weber State and No. 8 USC-Upstate.
  • The Penguins advanced to the semifinals of the WBI with a 67-48 victory over UMBC on Saturday at Beeghly Center. YSU made 15 3-pointers in the game and outscored the Retrievers by 26 over the final three periods. YSU also beat an America East opponent, Stony Brook, in the opening round of the WBI.
  • YSU is playing in a postseason tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The Penguins were in the Women's NIT in 2015, following up a berth in the same tournament in 2013. YSU was in the NCAA Tournament in 1996, 1998 and 2000.
  • When YSU and Louisiana tip on Wednesday, the Penguins will be one of just 34 teams out of 349 in the country still playing basketball. YSU is the last Horizon League school still playing and one of three in Ohio.
  • Youngstown State has won at least 21 games in three of the last four seasons. The Penguins will be playing 34 games in a season for the first time in program history.
  • Youngstown State has started four underclassmen in 25 games, and nine of the 12 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores. YSU's top three scorers – Second-Team All-Horizon League selection Sarah Cash, Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin – are sophomores.
  • YSU averages 8.8 3-pointers per game, which ranks 11th in the country. The Penguins have made a school record 291 3-pointers this season. Arbanas is one 3-pointer away from the program record for 3s in a season.
  • Cash ranks among the top five players in the nation with a .600 shooting percentage. A Second-Team All-Horizon League honoree, she ranks in the top 10 in the Horizon League in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
  • Benjamin ranks second in the Horizon League with 5.0 assists per game, and her .418 3-point field-goal percentage is the best by a Penguin in 13 years.

Previewing Louisiana

A Win Would...

  • Give the Penguins at least 22 wins for the sixth time in program history and the second time in the last four years.
  • Be YSU's third win in the WBI and its fifth postseason tournament win in program history.
  • Extend YSU's season to a school record 35 games and beyond March 23 for the first time in program history.

On This Date

  • Youngstown State has played once previously on March 23, a 61-43 loss to Toledo in the second round of the Women's NIT in 2013. The Penguins have never played a game later than March 23.

Scouting Louisiana

  • Louisiana is the defending champion of the Women's Basketball Invitational and the No. 1 seed on YSU's side of the bracket. The Ragin' Cajuns have a 23-10 overall record and have beaten No. 8 Northwestern State 69-54 and No. 4 Stetson 56-47. Louisiana went 13-7 in Sun Belt Conference play, which ranked third.
  • Louisiana has all five starters back from last year's team that won the WBI, and three of them — guards Keke Veal and Kia Wilridge and forward Adrienne Prejean — are seniors. Veal is a First-Team All-Sun Belt selection, and Wilridge is a second-team honoree. Veal averages a team-high 17.2 points, and Wilridge leads the team with 5.2 rebounds per contest.
  • Louisiana allows 56.2 points per game, which is second-best in the SBC, and it leads the conference in turnover margin at plus-5.94. The Ragin' Cajuns average 8.8 steals and force opponents into an average of 20 turnovers per contest.

Series with Louisiana

  • Youngstown State has never played Louisiana in women's basketball, and it will be playing in the state for the first time in program history.
  • The Penguins have twice previously played a team from Louisiana. YSU beat Nicholls State 51-50 at a Thanksgiving tournament at Tennessee State in Nashville last season. The Penguins lost 76-67 to the University of Louisiana at Monroe at a Thanksgiving tournament at UTEP in 2009.

Recapping UMBC

Youngstown State made tournament-record 15 3-pointers in an impressive 67-48 win over UMBC in the quarterfinals of the WBI on Saturday at the Beeghly Center.

Five Penguins made a 3-pointer while Nikki Arbanas (6), Kelsea Newman (4) and Indiya Benjamin (3) combined to make 13 of them. For the game, YSU was 15-of-44 from beyond the arc and 8-of-17 from two-point range.

UMBC led by as much as nine in the first period and converted four Penguins turnovers into 10 points. The Retrievers scored the first five points of the game, and a three-point play by Pandora Wilson put the Retrievers up 14-5 with 3:21 left. YSU's first lead didn't come until 22-21 after a 12-2 run. The Penguins also had a 9-2 run to close out the second period to go up 31-26 at halftime, and YSU held a 14-point edge in the second half.

Quick Notes from UMBC

  • Youngstown State broke the WBI record for 3-pointers in a game with 15. That surpassed the previous record of 14 that UAB set against Manhattan in 2011. The 15 3-pointers tied a Beeghly Center record, and they tied for the third-most in a game in program history. YSU's 44 attempts from 3-point range were the most under Coach John Barnes and the most since Feb. 11, 2012, at Loyola Chicago.
  • Kelsea Newman registered the first double-double of her career with 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. She has scored 29 points in her first two games of the WBI after having 28 points combined in her previous nine games.
  • Nikki Arbanas became the first player in school history to make at least six 3-pointers in five different games over her career. The sophomore went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc to bring her season total to 86. That total is one behind Heather Karner's school record that was set in 2006-07.
  • Youngstown State outscored UMBC 57-29 over the final 30:30 of the game. The Retrievers led 19-10 with 30 seconds left in the first period.
  • Youngstown State was plus-three in rebounding margin. It was just the second time that YSU has won the rebounding battle since Dec. 30.
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