Apr 06, 2016
The Youngstown State women's basketball team had many memorable moments and record-setting performances during the 2015-16 season that saw the Penguins win 21 games and advance to the semifinals of the WBI.
- Postseason Becoming a Regularity: Youngstown State earned a spot in the WBI and played in a postseason tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. The Penguins posted home wins against Stony Brook and UMBC in the first two rounds and lost to eventual WBI champion Louisiana in the semifinals. Youngstown State has now played in the postseason in three of the last four years.
- 21 Wins: YSU continued its growth as one of the top mid-majors in the region by winning at least 21 games for the third time in the last four years. YSU has an 80-50 record over the last four years for a winning percentage of .615. The Penguins started 6-0 in 2015-16 after winning their first 10 contests a year ago.
- Fan Support: YSU finished second in the Horizon League in attendance with an average of 1,444. The Penguins have been first or second in the conference in average attendance in each of their 15 years in the league. The Penguins also averaged more combined fans than their closest two rivals, Kent State and Akron, for the fourth straight season. YSU had the highest attendance in the opening round of the WBI by 484 and in the second round by 203.
- School Record for 3-Pointers: Youngstown State set a new school record by making 299 3-pointers in 2015-16, topping the previous mark of 275 that the 2011-12 team set. The Penguins led the Horizon League and finished 11th in the country with 8.8 3-pointers per game. YSU is one of just 17 programs in the country to make at least 200 3-pointers in each of the last six seasons.
- Single-Game Highlights: YSU made at least 15 3-pointers in four different games, which matches the total number of games that the program had ever made 15 3s coming into the season. The Penguins tied a school-record with 16 3-pointers at Oakland, and they made 15 three times at home. The first of those came on Dec. 12 when the Penguins beat Kent State 91-61 in their largest margin of victory over the Golden Flashes in the 41-game history of the series.
- Thrilling Come-From-Behind Wins: Youngstown State showed the resilience to overcome large deficits and provide thrilling wins all season long. YSU trailed by at least eight points in eight of their wins and by as many as 14 four times. The largest comeback came in the season opener when the Penguins overcame a 22-point deficit in the third period in a win over Canisius. YSU won in the final five seconds five times and went an impressive 7-1 in games that were decided by four points or fewer.
- Nikki Arbanas set a new school record for 3-pointers in a season with 89, surpassing Heather Karner's previous mark of 87 set in 2007-08. That total also led the Horizon League, as did her 53 makes from beyond the arc during conference play.
- Arbanas has made 144 3-pointers in her first two seasons and is just 55 shy of YSU's career record. Arbanas made at least six 3-pointers in four different games during the year. She's made at least six five separate times in her career, which is a school record.
- Indiya Benjamin finished the season with 170 assists, which is the most by a Penguin in 28 years, a new sophomore record and the fourth most in program history. She tied for the Horizon League lead with 5.0 assists per game, and her 15 assists in the win over Kent State tied for the most by a league player during the season. Benjamin's most-impressive game came at Oakland when she had 21 points and 13 rebounds for YSU's first 20-point, 10-assist effort in 30 seasons.
- Benjamin finished the season with 58 3-pointers while shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range. That was the best percentage by a Penguin in 13 years and the second-best mark in the Horizon League. Benjamin ranks behind only Arbanas for career 3-pointers after a sophomore season with 107.
- Sarah Cash was named Second-Team All-Horizon League as she improved incredibly from a walk-on last year to one of the top 10 players in the conference. Cash ranked fourth in the country with a .600 field-goal percentage, and she averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds. She finished the season ranking in the top 10 in the Horizon League in scoring, rebounding and blocks, and she was 12th in steals.
- Senior Janae Jackson closed out her career by averaging 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds over her final 10 games. The pinnacle came when she put the team on her back in the Horizon League Tournament victory over Oakland. Jackson finished that game with 24 points and 15 rebounds, including 22 points and 10 rebounds in the second half alone. She converted an offensive rebound into the game-winning bucket with 2.2 seconds remaining.
- Kelsea Newman tied a school record by making 8 3-pointers at Oakland on Nov. 28. She matched Kenya Middlebrooks' record that was set in 2011-12.
- Morgan Olson became the seventh player in program history to go at least 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in a single game when she made all 10 of her attempts at Niagara on Nov. 17.
- Alison Smolinski made 43 3-pointers during the year, which is the third most in program history by a freshman behind Arbanas and Benjamin.
- Coach John Barnes won the 200th game of his career on Dec. 14 against Salem International. Barnes went 156-55 over eight years at Michigan Tech, his alma mater, and his record at YSU is 57-40.