Penguins Go For Second Straight Win on Saturday vs. Valparaiso

Kelley Wright (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Kelley Wright (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State will try to carry over momentum from Thursday's win as it plays host to Valparaiso on Saturday at Beeghly Center. The game will be part of another Horizon League doubleheader with the YSU men's team and will tip at 4:30 p.m. Live coverage will be available on 570 WKBN,, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
  • The Penguins began their current three-game homestand with their first Horizon League victory on Thursday against UIC. YSU had 25-point quarters in the first and fourth periods and had four starters score in double figures in the win over the Flames.
  • YSU is 1-3 in league play but could easily be 3-1. The Penguins lost in overtime last Saturday at Northern Kentucky and held a 10-point lead in a three-point loss at Cleveland State in the league opener on New Year's Eve. Four of YSU's last six losses overall have been in overtime or by five points or fewer.
  • Forward Mary Dunn leads all Horizon League freshmen with 13.3 points per game and a .534 field-goal percentage. She was named the conference freshman of the week three times during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
  • Guards Indiya Benjamin, Jenna Hirsch, Alison Smolinski and Kelley Wright are all averaging career highs in scoring. Benjamin scored her 800th career point on Thursday.
  • Due to injuries, Youngstown State used seven different starting lineups in 15 games. Guards Nikki Arbanas and Kelsea Newman are out for the year, and preseason all-conference forward Sarah Cash has not played since Dec. 3.

Tickets & Promotions

  • Ticket can be purchased at the Beeghly Center Ticket Office starting at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Fans in attendance will receive a deck of Pete the Penguin Playing Cards, courtesy of Schwebel's, ValleyCare and 21 WFMJ.

A Win Would...

  • Be YSU's second in Horizon League play
  • Allow the Penguins to win back-to-back games for the second time this season.
  • Be YSU's third straight at Beeghly Center.
  • Be YSU's seventh consecutive home win over Valpo.

On This Date

  • Youngstown State has a 5-5 record all time in games played on Jan. 14. Eight of those games have been played at Beeghly Center, including the last five.
  • YSU is looking to stop a three-game skid in games played on Jan. 14. The second loss in that stretch was a 66-41 setback to Valparaiso in 2010.
  • YSU made 34 free throws, the third-most in a game in program history, in an 83-57 win over Buffalo in 1998.

Scouting Valparaiso

  • Valparaiso comes to Youngstown with a 5-11 overall record and an 0-5 mark in Horizon League play. The Crusaders have lost seven straight contests since beating NAIA opponent Grace College on Dec. 10. Valpo was 5-4 after that victory.
  • As a team, Valpo ranks seventh in the league in scoring offense and is last in scoring defense. The Crusaders lead the conference in blocks.
  • Individually, junior Dani Franklin is tied for the Horizon League lead with 18.8 points per game and a .456 3-point field-goal percentage. She attempts five more field goals than any other Crusader. Amber Lindfors is the league's top shot blocker at 2.3 per game.

Series with Valparaiso

  • Youngstown State is 24-15 all time against Valparaiso in a series that dates back to 1993. Both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference from 1992-2001, and only one of the 38 meetings in the series has not been in conference play or in a conference tournament.
  • YSU has beaten Valparaiso seven straight times at Beeghly Center and has won 10 of the last 12 meetings since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Last Year vs. Valpo

  • In Valparaiso, the Crusaders built a 12-point lead in the first half and held on for a 65-60 win on Jan. 23, 2016. YSU got within a point twice in the fourth period but trailed for the final 35 minutes.
  • In Youngstown, YSU shot a season-high 52.6 percent and led by double digits for the final 23 minutes in an 87-66 win over Valparaiso on Feb. 26, 2016. Sarah Cash was 9-of-11 from the field and scored 21 points.

Recapping UIC

  • Morgan Brunner scored 20 points in her first career start, and Youngstown State pulled away from UIC in the fourth period for a 70-54 victory on Thursday evening.
  • Brunner made five 3-pointers, the most by a Penguin this season, and YSU finished 10-for-24 from beyond the arc as a team. Three teammates joined Brunner in double figures as Jenna Hirsch had 16 with seven assists, Benjamin had 13 points and seven assists and Mary Dunn posted 10 points.
  • Youngstown State had 25 points in the first and fourth periods and 10 in the second and third. Despite scoring just 10 in the third, the Penguins held the Flames to five in the period to set up a plus-11 fourth period.
  • YSU missed 12 straight shots during the second period as its 27-19 lead turned into a 31-27 deficit. UIC did not make a field goal and committed seven turnovers in the final eight minutes of the third period.
  • The five points by UIC in the third period were the fewest by an opponent in any quarter this season. It also tied for the fewest that YSU has allowed in any period since halves switched to quarters prior to the 2015-16 season.
  • Brunner became just the fourth YSU freshman to ever score at least 20 points in a Horizon League game. She joins Benjamin, Hirsch and Nikki Arbanas.
  • Benjamin surpassed 800 career points and finished the night with 802. Her 800th point came on a 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining that put the Penguins up 56-45, and they led by double digits for all but 22 seconds the rest of the game.
  • Hirsch scored the 600th point of her career, and she also registered her 100th career steal. She was one point shy of her season high with 16 in the game, and she had seven assists for her fifth game in the last six with at least five assists.
  • Kelley Wright grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and scored at least seven points for the fifth straight game.