Penguins Force Overtime at American Before Falling 78-72

Nikki Arbanas (Photo by David Dermer)
Nikki Arbanas (Photo by David Dermer)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth period to force overtime but ultimately fell 78-72 at American on Saturday afternoon.

The Penguins outscored the Eagles 21-13 in the fourth behind three 3-pointers from Nikki Arbanas to come back from a 57-48 deficit with eight minutes left. American scored the first three points in overtime, and YSU never caught up.

Arbanas finished with 19 points on six 3-pointers, and Sarah Cash scored a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds. Cash was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line in the game, and she split a pair of attempts with 42.9 seconds left to tie the game at 64 in regulation.

Kaitlyn Lewis scored 16 points to lead American and hit a big 3-pointer in overtime to put the Eagles up 72-66.

Down eight heading into the fourth and trailing by nine with eight minutes left, the Penguins held American scoreless for almost five minutes to tie the score at 57. Arbanas hit a 3 out of a timeout to make the score 57-55, and Cash tied it at 57 with 3:09 remaining. American scored the next four points, and 3s by Chelsea Olson and Arbanas helped the Penguins get within 64-63 with 59 seconds left. YSU forced a turnover, and Cash made her first of two free throws to tie the score with 42.9 seconds remaining.

The Penguins got a stop on defense, and Cash missed on a drive in the final seconds on YSU's possession. The rebound went out of bounds with two seconds left, and the officials originally ruled it deflected off American before overturning it. The Eagles called timeout to advance the ball, and Emily Kinneston's winning attempt hit the rim and rolled off.

American's Cecily Carl scored on American's first two possessions of overtime to make the score 67-64, and Cash followed with a basket to get the Penguins within one. Elina Koskimies then hit a jumper, and Lewis followed a YSU turnover with a 3-pointer to put the Eagles ahead 72-66. YSU got as close as 73-70 when Benjamin hit a runner with 31 seconds left, but American hit 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to preserve the win.

American, which was picked to finish third in the Patriot League preseason poll, shot 53.8 percent from the field and got 31 points from its bench. YSU shot 38.7 percent but was able to stay in the game by making 10 3-pointers and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. The Penguins won the rebounding battle 36-29.

YSU led 2-0 and 4-2 in the opening minutes of the game, but American went on an 8-0 run to go up 10-4 with 6:19 left. The Eagles extended the lead to 15-8 at the 4:43 mark, but both of their starting posts were whistled for two fouls in the first six minutes. YSU got within one three different times before tying the contest at 29 on a 3-pointer by McKenah Peters at the 4:08 mark of the second period. American scored the next four points, and Cash made two free throws with 2:08 left for the final points of the half.

The Penguins took the lead at 34-33 when Arbanas hit a 3-pointer in transition, and the redshirt-junior hit another triple at the 8:10 mark to put YSU ahead 37-35. That ended up being the Penguins' final lead of the game. American scored the next 10 points as part of a 14-2 run over which YSU went more than six minutes without a field goal. That allowed the Eagles to take their largest lead of the game at 49-39 with 2:11 left in the third. American led 51-43 heading into the fourth.

Youngstown State will play its third straight road game on Tuesday when it travels to Akron. The game will tip at 7 p.m., and it will be carried live on 570 WKBN and ESPN3.