The Youngstown State women's basketball team scored the first 12 points of the game, and Sarah Cash and Mary Dunn were strong in the post as the Penguins beat Cleveland State 73-55 on Saturday afternoon at Beeghly Center.
Cash scored a game-high 24 points in just 20 minutes, and Dunn had 22 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes as YSU finished the first circuit of Horizon League play with a 7-2 record. The Penguins improved to 15-5 overall and 11-1 at home with the victory.
The Penguins shot 51.8 percent in the game and made at least half their shots in each of the first three periods. Cash and Dunn combined to go 21-for-30 from the field, and the Penguins were 26-for-43 inside the three-point arc. Alison Smolinski was 3-for-8 from long distance and finished with 14 points, and YSU attempted just 13 3s as the emphasis was on pounding the ball inside. Chelsea Olson finished with eight assists and just one turnover, and McKenah Peters grabbed 10 rebounds.
Mariah White scored 17 points to lead three Vikings in double figures. Cleveland State dropped to 7-13 overall and 4-5 in league play.
In addition to holding a 51.8 percent to 38.1 percent edge in shooting, YSU outrebounded Cleveland State 41-24 and held a 50-36 advantage in the paint.
Cash was part of 10 of YSU's first dozen points as she set the tone early. She scored on YSU's first two possessions, assisted on a Smolinski layup, and sank two more buckets to help the Penguins take a 12-0 lead at the 6:42 mark.
Cleveland State had four turnovers before scoring its first points on a JaMiya Braxton 3-pointer with 6:25 left. White scored on the next possession to make it 12-5, but that's as close as the difference would get. Smolinski nailed a 3 for the Penguins to push the score to 15-5, and the Penguins went on to lead by double digits for the final 33 minutes.
YSU led 24-11 at the end of the first period, and the margin ballooned to 18 at 37-19 following a three-point play by Smolinski with 5:40 left in the second. The Penguins led 44-27 at halftime.
Cleveland State shot 43.3 percent in the first half, but it committed nine turnovers that led to 12 Penguins points. YSU committed 14 turnovers in the second half, which limited its scoring despite shooting 50 percent.
The lead reached 20 for the first time at 50-30 on a Dunn basket with 6:48 left in the third period, and YSU's largest lead was 22 three different times. The Vikings never got closer than 16 after the Penguins took their 20-point lead.
Cash had made 27 consecutive free throws coming into the game, and she made her first attempt before her first miss since Dec. 30 at Oakland. The 28 straight makes tied for the fourth longest in program history.
Youngstown State will conclude its January slate and begin the second half of Horizon League play on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. against Oakland. It will be 90s Night at Beeghly Center for Throwback Thursday as well as $1 popcorn night, courtesy of AVI Concessions. It will also be Greek Night, and there will be a t-shirt giveaway and pizza party for YSU students.