The Youngstown State women's basketball team committed 21 turnovers and couldn't make enough shots to counter in a 70-59 loss at Northern Kentucky on Thursday evening.
The loss drops YSU's record to 18-10 overall and 9-8 in Horizon League play. Northern Kentucky improves to 17-11 overall and 9-8 in conference play, and the Norse swept the season series with the Penguins to take control of tiebreaker scenarios.
Youngstown State improved defensively from its first meeting with NKU, but the Penguins shot 36.8 percent and were hurt by the 21 turnovers. Those 21 turnovers came on just five NKU steals.
Indiya Benjamin scored a team-high 13 points and made three of YSU's 11 3-pointers, and Nikki Arbanas was the only other Penguin in double figures with 10 points. Arbanas made two triples to surpass 70 for the season.
NKU scored on its first three possessions of the game and led 8-3 after Christine Roush made two free throws at the 8:05 mark. The Norse didn't score for almost five minutes, and that allowed the Penguins to score the next eight points. Jenna Hirsch's 3-pointer put YSU ahead 11-8 at the 3:28 mark, but NKU closed the period on a 7-2 spurt to go up 17-13.
Youngstown State scored the first five points of the second half on Arbanas' 70th 3-pointer of the season and a Sarah Cash bucket to go up 18-17 at the 8:09 mark. NKU scored on its next possession to reclaim the lead, and the Norse did not trail again.
NKU led 32-28 at halftime, and it outscored the Penguins 23-15 in the third period to gain some separation. The Norse scored the first five points of the second half to stretch its lead to nine, 37-28, but a deuce by Cash and a trey by Alison Smolinski got the lead right back to four with 5:27 left in the period.
NKU's first double-digit lead came after two Rebecca Lyttle free throws at the 2:21 mark capped a 10-3 run. NKU hit 3-pointers on its final two possessions of the third period to get the lead to 12, and another three in the opening minute of the fourth put NKU up 58-43. YSU got within 62-54 with 3:40 left, and that's as narrow as the gap got.
Youngstown State will conclude the regular season at Wright State on Sunday at 1 p.m.