Penguins Use Big Fourth Quarter to Earn Third Straight Road Win

Kelley Wright (Photo by Jose Juarez)
Kelley Wright (Photo by Jose Juarez)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team outscored Detroit Mercy 26-6 over the final 11 minutes to defeat the Titans 72-52 on Saturday at Calihan Hall.

The Penguins have now won three consecutive Horizon League road games for the first time since February 2015, beating Cleveland State by 14, Oakland by 10 and Detroit Mercy by 20. Before the current streak, they had never won three straight Horizon League road contests by double digits.

YSU had to fight through offensive struggles in the first period and a surge by the Titans in the third period to earn the win. The Penguins led 9-8 after the first and 32-23 at halftime before Detroit Mercy rallied to tie the score at 46-46 in the final minute of the third quarter. Indiya Benjamin hit a 3-pointer to spark a 5-0 YSU spurt to close out the period, and the Penguins went on to outscore Detroit Mercy 21-6 in the fourth.

Benjamin finished with 14 points and eight assists, and Mary Dunn and McKenah Peters both scored 11 points for the Penguins. Brittney Jackson scored a game-high 15 points to lead the Titans.

After going 3-for-21 from the field in the first period, YSU shot 54.8 percent in the final 30 minutes to finish 26-for-63 for the game. The Penguins made 11 3-pointers, including three each by Benjamin and Peters.

Detroit Mercy was 10-for-20 from the field as it outscored YSU 23-19 in the third period, but UDM was 10-for-41 combined in the other three quarters.

YSU's first lead was 7-6 on a Benjamin basket with 4:04 left in the first period, and both teams scored just two more points the rest of the quarter as the Penguins took a 9-8 lead into the second. The teams went back and forth in the second before YSU went on a 10-3 run to turn a 15-13 deficit into a 23-18 advantage with 4:24 left. The Penguins did not trail again, and they extended the lead to nine when Benjamin hit a triple with 41 seconds remaining before halftime.

Detroit Mercy scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half to get within 34-33 at the 7:04 mark. The teams traded seven-point spurts over the next four minutes, and the Titans eventually caught the Penguins when Gracie Roberts hit a long two-pointer with 1:06 left in the third. Benjamin answered with a 3 and Dunn followed with a layup on a pass from Chelsea Olson to set up YSU's big fourth quarter.

An Olson 3-pointer extended the lead to 54-46 a minute into the fourth, and YSU scored 13 straight points over a six-minute stretch to go up 67-50. Benjamin started the run with a 3-poiner, and Nikki Arbanas bookended it with a triple at the 2:15 mark. Anja Marinkovic provided Detroit Mercy's only field goal of the final seven minutes with 1:27 left, and YSU finished off the 20-point victory with two free throws by Arbanas and a 3-pointer by Peters.

Youngstown State will head back on the road for two more contests away from Beeghly Center next week. The Penguins will play at IUPUI on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at UIC on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern. Both games will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO and ESPN 3.