Penguins Begin WNIT at Cincinnati on Thursday

Sarah Cash (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Sarah Cash (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Scouting Report

  • Youngstown State begins its fifth postseason tournament in the last seven years at Cincinnati on Thursday night in the opening round of the Women's NIT. Tipoff at Fifth Third Arena is set for 7 p.m., and the game against the Bearcats will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO, iHeartRadio and Bearcats TV.
  • The Penguins earned an at-large berth into the Women's NIT after going 22-9 and advancing to the semifinals of the Little Caesars Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship. This is the third time since 2013 that YSU is playing in the WNIT, having earned an automatic bid in 2013 and an at-large invitation in 2015.
  • YSU has also recently played in the Women's Basketball Invitational in 2016 and 2018. This is the first time YSU is opening postseason tournament play on the road since the 2000 NCAA Tournament.
  • YSU's 22-9 record in 2018-19 has been fueled by a 16-1 home mark. The Penguins set a school record with those 16 home wins, and they also set a program standard with 13 Horizon League victories.
  • YSU has won at least 20 games for the fourth time in the last seven years and for the third time under Head Coach John Barnes. The Penguins won at least 21 regular-season games for just the fifth time in program history.
  • Youngstown State is one of four Horizon League teams playing in the postseason. Wright State is a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Green Bay and IUPUI are also in the WNIT. The Penguins are one of eight teams from Ohio in the WNIT field.
  • A conference-high three Penguins were named to the Horizon League first and second teams. Junior Mary Dunn was a first-team selection and was also voted the Horizon League Sixth Player of the Year. Fifth-year senior and fellow post Sarah Cash and sophomore guard Chelsea Olson earned second-team nods.
  • Alison Smolinski has set YSU records for most 3s in a game (9), season (104) and career (257) in 2018-19. She also broke the conference record for 3s in a season, and she was named to the Horizon League All-Tournament Team after an 18-point performance against Green Bay in the semifinals.
  • The Penguins have a balanced offensive attack with Smolinski, Cash and Dunn ranking fifth through seventh in the Horizon League in scoring. That trio and Olson all average between 10.3 points and 12.9 points per game.
  • Youngstown State is one of 13 schools in the country to make at least 200 3-pointers in each of the last nine seasons. The Penguins are on pace to lead the Horizon League in 3-pointers per game for the fifth straight season.
  • As a result of season-ending injuries and transfers sitting out, YSU has dressed a maximum of nine players every game this season.
  • YSU leads the Horizon League in scoring margin, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, 3-point field-goal percentage, assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-pointers per game.

Previewing Cincinnati

A Win Would...

  • Improve YSU's record to 23-9 overall.
  • Give YSU 23 wins for the sixth time in program history.
  • Be YSU's second all-time in the Women's NIT.
  • Be YSU's first in eight tries against Cincinnati.
  • Be the 616th in school history and the 105th under Head Coach John Barnes.

Scouting The Bearcats

  • Cincinnati is having its best season in quite a while, having won at least 20 games for the first time since 2003 and posting 12-or-more conference victories for the first time since 1999. UC is 21-10 overall, and it went 12-4 in American Athletic Conference play.
  • The Bearcats rank third in the AAC in scoring offense at 67 points per game, and they were fifth in scoring defense. They are second behind UConn in scoring margin at plus-7.2, and UC is also second in field-goal percentage, assists and assist-turnover ratio. Cincinnati finished third in the conference behind UConn and UCF, which are both headed to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Sophomore forward IImar'I Thomas was named First-Team All-AAC, and junior guard Antoinette Miller was a second-team pick. JUCO transfer Florence Sifa was the AAC Newcomer of the Year. Thomas leads UC with 13.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and Miller averages 12.7 points and team highs of 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals. Nikira Goings is the 3-pointers leader with 51.

Series History: YSU vs. Cincinnati

  • Overall: Cincinnati leads 7-0
  • Barnes: 0-1 // Home: 0-2 // Away: 0-4 // Neutral: 0-1
  • Current Win Streak: 7 by Cincinnati
  • YSU and Cincinnati are meeting for the eighth time in school history and for just the fifth time since the 1982-83 season.
  • The last meeting between the Penguins and Bearcats came in the seventh game of Head Coach John Barnes' tenure at YSU on Dec. 8, 2013. Cincinnati won that contest 83-62 at Beeghly Center.
  • This will be the second tournament contest between YSU and Cincinnati. The programs met in the Ohio Association for Intercollegiate Sports for Women (OIASW) Tournament in Columbus on Feb. 28, 1980. Cincinnati won that contest 75-65. 

Last Time vs. Cincinnati

  • Youngstown State jumped out to a 13-4 lead before Cincinnati used big scoring runs around halftime en route to an 83-62 victory on Dec. 8, 2013, at Beeghly Center.
  • The Bearcats outscored the Penguins 15-5 to close the first half and 13-3 to open the second half to take an insurmountable 50-30 lead with 15:57 left. YSU got within 12 with just over five minutes remaining but got no closer.
  • YSU was led by Heidi Schlegel, who scored 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and a 9-of-12 effort from the free-throw line.

Quisenberry Connection

  • A big part of Cincinnati's win over Youngstown State in 2013 was the play of freshman guard Bianca Quisenberry, who posted 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. That last name should strike an interest with Penguins fans, who watched Bianca's younger brother Darius start 32 games at point guard for the YSU men's basketball team as a freshman this season.
  • Darius Quisenberry was named to the All-Horizon League Second-Team and to the All-Freshman Team for the Penguins in 2018-19. He was the conference freshman of the week three times, and he led YSU with 13.8 points and 3.8 assists per game.
  • Bianca Quisenberry went on to score 772 points over 113 games in her Bearcats career.

YSU's Women's NIT History

  • Youngstown State is playing the Women's NIT for the third time in program history, and all three appearances have come since the 2012-13 season.
  • The Penguins earned the Horizon League's automatic bid to the tournament in 2013, and they have been at-large selections the two most recent times in 2015 and 2019.
  • YSU won its first WNIT game in program history on March 21, 2013, by beating Indiana State 63-51 in Youngstown. Five Penguins scored in double figures, and Brandi Brown led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Penguins trailed 13-6 with 14 minutes left in the first half but scored the next 11 points and never fell behind again.
  • YSU has dropped its last two WNIT contests. The Penguins fell 61-43 at Toledo on March 23, 2013, and they lost 72-54 to Duquesne at Beeghly Center on March 19, 2015.

All-Time Postseason Results

March 15, 1996 • NCAA Tournament at Penn State • L, 71-94
March 13, 1998 • NCAA Tournament vs. Memphis • W, 91-80
March 15, 1998 • NCAA Tournament at NC State • L, 61-88
March 17, 2000 • NCAA Tournament at Penn State • L, 63-83
March 21, 2013 • WNIT vs. Indiana State • W, 63-51
March 23, 2013 • WNIT at Toledo • L, 43-61
March 19, 2015 • WNIT vs. Duquesne • L, 54-72
March 16, 2016 • WBI vs. Stony Brook • W, 67-60
March 19, 2016 • WBI vs. UMBC • W, 67-48
March 23, 2016 • WBI at Louisiana • L, 49-69
March 14, 2018 • WBI vs. Binghamton • L, 59-70

On This Day

  • The only other time that YSU has played on March 21 was when it beat Indiana State 63-51 in the opening round of the 2013 WNIT.
  • Five Penguins scored in double figures, and Brandi Brown led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Recapping Green Bay

  • Youngstown State suffered a gut-wrenching defeat in the semifinals of the Little Caesars Horizon League Women's Basketball Championship on March 11, falling 55-53 to Green Bay.
  • The Penguins led 50-47 on Melinda Trimmer's runner in the lane with 4:34 remaining. That ended up being their last field goal of the game, and Green Bay scored eight of the game's final 11 points.
  • YSU had chances on their next three possessions to extend the three-point lead. Green Bay's Jen Wellnitz tied the score at 50 on with a 3 at the 2:37 mark, and she put the Phoenix ahead 52-50 with 1:33 left.
  • McKenah Peters went 1-for-2 from the free-throw line with 1:11 remaining to make the score 52-51, and YSU missed two more shots inside of 15 feet in the final 20 seconds that would have given it the lead.
  • YSU trailed 27-15 in the final minute of the first half, but it scored the final six points of the half and outscored the Phoenix 17-11 in the third to tie the score at 38-38.
  • Peters made YSU's first two-pointer of the game on a driving layup with 39.4 seconds left. She followed it with a free throw, and Trimmer hit a 3 in the final seconds to make it 27-21 at halftime.
  • Alison Smolinski went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the third period, and she had 15 of YSU's 17 points in the quarter. Smolinski made her 100th triple of the season at the 8:16 mark of the period.
  • Peters finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, and Trimmer scored in double figures for the eighth straight contest
  • Entering the contest, YSU was 21-3 when three players reached double figures 16-1 when allowing fewer than 60 points and 13-1 when outscoring opponents off turnovers.

Up Next

  • The winner between Youngstown State and Cincinnati will play either Northern Iowa or Minnesota in the second round of the WNIT.