Hot Start Allows Penguins to Cruise to 73-49 Win at Loyola Chicago

Chelsea Olson (Photo by David Dermer)
Chelsea Olson (Photo by David Dermer)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team scored 18 straight points in the first period and led by double digits for the final 34 minutes in a 73-49 victory at Loyola Chicago on Saturday afternoon.

The Penguins made four of their 12 3-pointers in the game during that 18-0 run, and six different YSU players made at least one triple in the contest. Alison Smolinski made all three of hers during the second half and finished with a game-high 15 points, and Sarah Cash and Chelsea Olson both finished with 14.

Youngstown State won at Gentile Arena for the first time after losing all 14 times the programs played when the Ramblers were in the Horizon League.

Jessica Cerda scored 11 points off the bench to lead Loyola. The Penguins held Ramblers leading scorer Kailyn to two points in the first three quarters and 10 total, and second-leading scorer Ellie Rice was held 13 points under her average coming in.

Cash scored the first two points of the game, and the Penguins then poured in 18 straight points after Loyola took a 3-2 lead. Nikki Arbanas scored five straight points to kickstart the run, and Indiya Benjamin followed with six straight to put the Penguins up 13-3. A Cash basket, Olson's first career 3-pointer and two Cash free throws put YSU up 20-3. The Penguins pushed the advantage to 26-7 at the end of the period.

YSU then scored the first eight points of the second period to extend the advantage to 34-7 at the 7:19 mark. The only time the lead got below 20 the rest of the game was at 36-17 with 3:02 left in the second period, and YSU scored the final six points of the half to go up 42-17 at the break.

An Olson 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the third gave the Penguins their first 30-point advantage at 55-25, and the largest lead was 61-30 on a Smolinski triple early in the fourth. Loyola scored nine points in the final four minutes to shave five points off the final margin.

After being frustrated when good shot selection didn't result in buckets the first two games, YSU shot 48.3 percent overall and 46.2 percent from 3-point range against the Ramblers. The Penguins also trimmed their turnovers to eight.

Youngstown State will try to win its second straight contest when it hosts Ohio Valley on Monday at 7 p.m. at Beeghly Center.