INDIYANAPOLIS!!! Benjamin Breaks Assists Record, Leads Penguins to Big Win at IUPUI

Indiya Benjamin (Photo by David Dermer)
Indiya Benjamin (Photo by David Dermer)

Indiya Benjamin became Youngstown State's all-time assists leader and scored 15 second-half points to lead the Penguins to a big 70-67 win at IUPUI on Thursday at The Jungle.

YSU won for the fifth time in the last six games and for the fourth consecutive time on the road to improve to 11-13 overall and 7-6 in Horizon League play. The Penguins endured 20 lead changes against the second-place Jaguars and enjoyed a huge turnaround from when IUPUI won 65-43 at Beeghly Center on Jan. 6. IUPUI dropped to 17-6 overall and 9-3 in conference games.

Benjamin added 10 assists to her 17 points, and her record-breaking assist came on a pass in transition to Mary Dunn with 8:01 left in the third period. She passed Danielle Carson's mark of 573, which had stood since 1986, and she finished the night with 578.

While it was Benjamin the passer that moved atop the all-time list, it was Benjamin the scorer that carried the Penguins to the win in Indianapolis. The senior point guard was 6-for-11 from the field while adding five assists and a steal in the final 20 minutes.

Chelsea Olson added 13 points, and Kelley Wright kept up her hot streak with 12 points and five rebounds for the Penguins.

Macee Williams had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and she, Tamya Sims and Danielle Lawrence combined for 51 of the Jaguars' 67 points.

YSU scored the first six points of the game to lead 6-0, and the Penguins didn't trail until Williams made two free throws at the 5:11 mark to put the Jaguars up 9-8. Those two free throws accounted for the first of eight ties and the first of 20 lead changes.

YSU led by six again at 21-15 with 1:01 left in the quarter, but IUPUI scored the final two points of the first and outscored the Penguins 14-7 in the second to go up 31-28 at halftime.

The lead changed hands six times in the third period, and IUPUI's largest lead of the night came when a Sims putback put it ahead 47-42 with 2:45 left. Wright hit a 3 on the next possession, and Benjamin followed with another triple as the Penguins kept the pressure on. IUPUI led 49-48 at the end of the third to set up a frantic fourth.

Benjamin hit another 3 to give the Penguins a 56-55 advantage with 7:49 mark remaining, and Williams answered with a jumper to put IUPUI back on top 19 seconds later. An Olson triple with 6:18 left put YSU ahead 59-57, and the Jaguars' final lead came on a Sydney Hall 3-pointer at the 4:33 mark. The Penguins didn't allow another IUPUI field goal for almost four minutes as they grabbed the lead and held it.

A Wright basket on Benjamin's 10th assist of the night put the Penguins ahead 64-63 and accounted for the final lead change of the night with 3:22 remaining. Olson and Wright both made two free throws to extend the advantage to 68-63, and IUPUI got back-to-back field goals to get within 68-67 with 12.4 seconds remaining. YSU's Nikki Arbanas made two free throws with 6.4 seconds left, and Lawrence missed the tying 3 attempt.

Youngstown State shot 44.2 percent overall, went 10-for-23 from 3-point range and made 14-of-15 from the free-throw line. IUPUI shot 43.6 percent but went 2-for-14 from 3-point range, and the Jaguars were 17-for-25 from the charity stripe.

Youngstown State will play at UIC on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern. The game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO and ESPN3.