Penguins Finish Road Stretch with 79-65 Loss at Saint Francis U

Alison Smolinski (Photo by David Dermer)
Alison Smolinski (Photo by David Dermer)

Saint Francis U outscored the Youngstown State women's basketball team by 18 in the middle two quarters and beat the Penguins 79-65 on Saturday at DeGol Arena.

Alison Smolinski led the Penguins with 19 points, 15 of which came from beyond the 3-point arc. She went toe-to-toe with SFU's Jessica Kovatch, who also had 19 points on 19 field-goal attempts. Kovatch had two teammates score in double figures as Ace Harrison had 13 and Maya Wynn had 12, and Nikki Arbanas was second in scoring for the Penguins with nine points.

Neither team had a great shooting performance as SFU shot 38.2 percent to YSU's 33.8 percent. The Red Flash, though, turned their 16 offensive rebounds into 16 points. SFU converted five offensive caroms into 10 points in the third period as it outscore the Penguins 22-11. Saint Francis made 11 3s, and Youngstown State made 10.

Saint Francis U led 11-4 on an Ace Harrison basket at the 6:46 mark of the first period, but the Penguins outscored the Red Flash 14-7 the rest of the period to tie the score at 18.

Smolinski scored eight of YSU's first nine points, and her long two-pointer at the 4:08 mark got Youngstown State within 13-9. Nikki Arbanas followed with a 3-pointer to make the score 13-12, and her second triple of the period made it 18-17 at the 1:12 mark. Chelsea Olson's free throw 30 seconds later tied the contest.

YSU's first lead came at 21-20 on a Natalie Myers 3-pointer with 7:29 left in the second. That was YSU's fifth 3 of the game, but the Penguins did not make another before halftime. After a 3-pointer by Kovatch put the Red Flash up, jumpers by Mary Dunn and Anne Secrest gave YSU a 25-23 lead with 6:15 left. The Penguins made one field goal the rest of the period, a Trimmer drive at the 1:46 mark. SFU's trap converted a turnover into a layup in the final 10 seconds to give the Red Flash a 37-30 lead at halftime.

The Penguins battled foul trouble in the first half as Sarah Cash, Indiya Benjamin, Arbanas and Cash each had two fouls. Benjamin and Cash were both held scoreless in the half.

SFU's first double-digit lead of the day came when Kovatch hit a triple at the 7:03 mark of the third. Karson Swogger followed with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 48-35, and the Red Flash led by at least 10 until for the next 14 minutes.

Smolinski hit a 3 at the 5:34 mark of the third to get the Penguins within 50-40, but SFU scored nine of the final 10 points of the period to go up 59-41 heading into the fourth. A Smolinski 3 cut the deficit to a dozen with 8:11 left, and an Arbanas triple got the Penguins back to within 10 at 64-54 with 6:20 on the clock. SFU went on an 8-2 spurt to extend its lead to 16, but back-to-back Benjamin baskets and a 3-pointer by Morgan Brunner allowed the Penguins to climb to within 72-63 with 2:45 left.

YSU followed with a stop on defense, but a turnover led to a Kovatch 3 that put SFU back up by a dozen with 2:05 remaining. The Red Flash went on to outscore YSU 7-2 after Brunner's 3 to hold on for the win.

Youngstown State will have six days without competition for finals week. The Penguins will begin a six-game home stand on Dec. 16 against Northern Arizona. Tipoff against the Lumberjacks will be at 1 p.m. at Beeghly Center.