Chelsea Olson scored the most points by a Youngstown State freshman in 23 years, and the Penguins used a big second half to beat Cleveland State 66-52 on Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.
Olson had 20 of her game and career-high 26 points in the second half as YSU outscored the Vikings 44-29 over the final 20 minutes. She was 5-for-5 from the field, 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 7-for-9 from the free-throw line in the second half. Her 26 points were the most by a YSU freshman since Ann Marie Martin scored 26 against UMKC on Jan. 23, 1995.
Khayla Livingston scored 13 points to lead Cleveland State.
Both teams lacked significant pieces to their starting lineups in the game. YSU was without starting guards Nikki Arbanas and Alison Smolinski, and Cleveland State leading scorer Ashanti Abshaw was also out with an injury. In addition to Olson and Brunner stepping up in the second half, Natalie Myers scored six points in the game, which was four above her average.
The score was within five points for the first 25 minutes of the game before Olson helped the Penguins pull away.
YSU's largest lead in the first half was at 6-2 when Cash scored with 6:11 left in the opening quarter. Cleveland State held the Penguins scoreless for the final three minutes of the first period and more than two minutes into the second period as at built a 16-11 lead. The Vikings held the upper hand the rest of the half, and they were ahead 23-18 with less than two minutes left in the second period. Cash made two free throws - on Cleveland State's first foul of the half - and Olson tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer to get the Penguins within one at the break.
The Penguins' first lead of the second half came when Brunner's 3-pointer at the 7:35 mark put them ahead 26-25, and they did not trail again. Brunner's 3 was part of a 14-3 run, which ended with Olson scoring seven straight points that gave the Penguins a 36-28 lead with 4:00 left in the third. Indiya Benjamin's long 3-pointer at the end of the quarter extended the advantage to 44-35.
Olson's 3 less than a minute into the fourth gave the Penguins their first double-digit lead of the game at 47-37, and the margin grew to 15 on a Myers triple at the 7:42 mark. Cleveland State got within 10 just inside of seven minutes left, but YSU was able to hold the big second-half lead this time at the Wolstein Center. After Olivia Voskuhl's 3-pointer made the score 52-42, the Vikings made just two more field goals the rest of the game and got no closer than nine.
Youngstown State shot 45.8 percent for the game, including 61.9 percent in the second half, and went 9-for-26 from 3-point range. Cleveland State was held to 30.5 percent from the field while going 5-for-22 from long distance.
Youngstown State will play a pair of home games next week, beginning with a Thursday contest against Northern Kentucky at 7 p.m.