League Play Begins Saturday at Oakland for Women's Basketball

Kelsea Newman and Youngstown State begin Horizon League play at Oakland on Saturday.
Kelsea Newman and Youngstown State begin Horizon League play at Oakland on Saturday.
Youngstown State at Oakland
Date & Time Saturday, Nov. 28, at 3 p.m.
Location Athletics Center O'rena - Rochester, Mich.
Tickets GoldenGrizzlies.com
Radio iHeartRadio | 106.1 WBBG
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Scouting Report

  • The Youngstown State women's basketball team will slide into Horizon League play on Saturday as it travels to Oakland. Tipoff against the Golden Grizzlies is set for 3 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on Big 106.1 WBBG FM, iHeartRadio, ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
  • This will be the earliest start to conference play in school history for the Penguins. The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 4, but the Penguins and Golden Grizzlies were granted permission to move it to avoid having four games in eight days to start league play.
  • After beating preseason NEC favorite Robert Morris 55-46 on Tuesday, Youngstown State is 4-0 for the third time in the last four years. The Penguins have started 5-0 at the Division I level (since 1981-82) three previous times, including last year.
  • Youngstown State has held each of its first four opponents under 55 points. That has been key in the victories as the Penguins are struggling offensively in the early going. YSU is shooting 34.6 percent and averaging 58.2 points over its first four games.
  • Six different players have scored in double figures for YSU in the first four games of the season. Sarah Cash (20, 19, 13) and Nikki Arbanas (11, 10) have each done it at least twice, and Alison Smolinski (16), Indiya Benjamin (15), Morgan Olson (10) and Janae Jackson (10) have all scored in double digits once.
  • Youngstown State returns three starters and a total of eight letterwinners from last season's team that won 21 games and earned an at large berth to play in the Women's NIT.

Previewing Oakland

A Win Would...

  • Give YSU a 5-0 start for the second straight year and for the fourth time as a Division I program (since 1981-82).
  • Give YSU a five-game winning streak for the fourth straight season.
  • Be YSU's first at Oakland since 2000.
  • Allow YSU to win its Horizon League opener for the fourth time in the last five years.

On This Date

  • YSU is 4-7 in its history in games played on Nov. 28. The Penguins have won three of their last six after starting 1-4 on the date.
  • Interestingly, YSU has played at home just once in the 11 times is has played on Nov. 28.
  • Individually, Jen Perugini grabbed 23 rebounds on Nov. 28, 2001, at Akron. That was the most ever by a YSU player at the Division I level.

Scouting Oakland

  • Oakland was picked to finish fifth – one spot behind YSU – in the preseason Horizon League poll. Oakland seniors Olivia Nash and Elena Popkey were both voted to the league preseason second-team.
  • The Golden Grizzlies are 3-1 following an 8-373 win at Norfolk State on Tuesday. One of Oakland's wins was a 77-67 triumph at Niagara on Nov. 21. YSU beat the Purple Eagles 71-54 on Nov. 17.
  • Oakland has scored at least 77 points in every game. Five players average at least 11 points, and two more average at least eight. Oakland is shooting 51.1 percent from the field as a team.

Series with Oakland

  • Youngstown State is 6-8 all time against Oakland, and the home team was won all five meetings since the Golden Grizzlies joined the Horizon League in 2013-14.
  • YSU is 2-5 all-time at Oakland, with the last win in Rochester coming on Jan. 8, 2000, when both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Penguins lost 85-82 at Oakland last year when they were outscored 8-2 over the final 2:20.
  • Last Meeting: YSU scored 14 straight points near the end of the first half and shot 76 percent in the second half to beat Oakland 76-54 on Feb. 11, 2015, at Beeghly Center. After starting 2-for-11 from the field, YSU went 19-for-35 the rest of the game. Defensively, the Penguins held Oakland to 54 points, its lowest output in conference play.

Recapping Robert Morris

Sophomore Sarah Cash scored a career-high 20 points, and Youngstown State had an impressive display on the defensive end of the floor in a 55-46 win over Robert Morris on Tuesday night at the Beeghly Center. YSU improved to 4-0 with the win.

Cash was 9-of-11 from the field and grabbed four rebounds in just 24 minutes of play. She made her last nine attempts and scored YSU's final nine points of the game over the last 3:42 of the game. Nikki Arbanas, Kelsea Newman and Alison Smolinski had nine points each, and YSU shot 41.7 percent. Robert Morris came into the game averaging 83.2 points per game, and YSU held them 37 below that average.

YSU never trailed, and its first three baskets of the game were from 3-point range, and a Cash bucket put the Penguins ahead 11-2 with 5:33 left in the first period. YSU led by 12 in the second period, but a field-goal drought that spanned more than 13 minutes allowed Robert Morris to creep within 27-25. The Colonials were also within two at 43-41 with five minutes left before Cash helped the Penguins hold on.

Quick Notes From RMU

  • The win was the 40th for coach John Barnes at Youngstown State.
  • YSU held Robert Morris to the lowest point total by a Division I opponent at Beeghly Center since Loyola had 38 on Jan. 26, 2013.
  • After combining for 10 first-period points in the first two home games, YSU scored 21 in the first against Robert Morris. The Penguins were held to six points in the second.
  • Indiya Benjamin had a career-high nine assists. That was the most by a Penguin since Jenna Hirsch had nine versus Milwaukee on Jan. 18, 2014. Oddly, Nikki Arbanas was the only other Penguin in the game to have an assist.
  • Arbanas was very solid defensively in the game. She held A Niki Stamplamprou, Robert Morris' top scorer and a preseason First-Team All-NEC pick, to three points while forcing four turnovers. Arbanas played all 40 minutes.
  • Alison Smolinski made her first career start and responded with nine points and three rebounds in 32 minutes. Her 3 with eight minutes left gave YSU a 10-point lead.
  • YSU's field goal drought went from the 7:45 mark of the second period to the 4:21 mark of the third. YSU missed 12 consecutive field goal attempts in that stretch, but it allowed just 11 points during the dry spell to stay ahead. Aside from those 12 straight misses, YSU was 20-for-36 from the field.
  • YSU battled foul trouble in the second period as four players picked up two fouls before halftime.
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Get to Know Janae Jackson
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Get to Know Jenna Hirsch
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Get to Know Sarah Cash
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Get to Know Marissa Brown
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Get to Know Jill Blacksten
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Get to Know Indiya Benjamin
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Get to Know Nikki Arbanas
October 22, 2015 Get to Know Nikki Arbanas