The Youngstown State women's basketball team had to play from behind from the tip and was outscored by 10 at the free-throw line in a 66-60 loss to Bucknell on Friday afternoon at Beeghly Center.
Bucknell scored the first eight points of the game, and it held the lead until YSU began the second half on a 9-3 burst to go up 34-33. The Bison scored the final nine points of the third period and the first two of the fourth to go up 51-40, and they were able to hold on when YSU got within three points in the final minute.
Indiya Benjamin scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half, and she added nine assists. Alison Smolinski scored eight points despite sitting for all but four minutes of the first half with foul trouble. Nikki Arbanas scored eight points with three assists, and Morgan Brunner also had eight points off the bench. Four different Penguins hit two 3-pointers.
Bucknell used its size advantage to outrebound the Penguins 44-27 and outscore them 28-16 in the paint. Kaitlyn Slagus had 21 points in 27 minutes, and she was part of an interior defense that held the Penguins' four posts to 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Slagus was 8-for-14 from the field, and she hit four of Bucknell's eight 3s in the game.
Youngstown State outshot the Bison 41.4 percent to 39 percent while making one more field goal and two more 3s. Bucknell, though, made 10 more free throws and attempted 14 more as YSU was whistled for 20 fouls to the Bison's 13.
Bucknell's 8-0 run to start the game was capped by its first of six 3-pointers in the opening half, and the Bison had their first double-digit lead when Slagus hit back-to-back 3s to make the score 17-7 with 2:09 left. YSU scored the final five points of the period to get within five, and a basket by Mary Dunn halfway through the second period got the Penguins within a possession at 22-19. An Arbanas triple got the Penguins to within 24-22 with 4:03 left, but that's as close as they got in the half.
Benjamin scored YSU's first seven points of the third period, and she had an assist on a Smolinski basket in transition that gave the Penguins their first lead at 34-33 with 7:24 left in the third period. The score was within a bucket until Bucknell held YSU scoreless for the final 5:26 of the third and the first minute of the fourth as it took a 51-40 lead.
Arbanas and Smolinski hit back-to-back 3s to put YSU back within striking distance at 51-46, and YSU got within five three more times before another Smolinski triple with 30 seconds left made the score 63-60. Bucknell called timeout to advance the ball to the front court, and Slagus got free on the inbounds play and made a basket and ensuing free throw to put the Bison up 66-60. Benjamin missed on YSU's next possession, and Bucknell ran out the clock.
Youngstown State will begin a four-game road stretch at Robert Morris on Wednesday at 7 p.m.