Alison Smolinski made six 3-pointers in the first half, and the Youngstown State women's basketball team opened Horizon League play with an 85-59 victory over Detroit Mercy on Friday evening at Calihan Hall.
Smolinski helped the Penguins build a 47-23 halftime lead, and the advantage grew to as much as 33 in the fourth period before the Titans scored nine of the final 11 points of the game.
Youngstown State won its Horizon League opener for the fifth time in the last six seasons and improved to 9-3 this season. Detroit Mercy dropped to 2-10 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
While Smolinski scored 18 of her 23 points in the first half, Mary Dunn and Chelsea Olson went to work in the second half. Dunn tied her career high with 24 points while making 9-of-11 from the field, and 15 of those points came in the final 20 minutes. Olson scored 11 points in the fourth period and finished with 18 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Melinda Trimmer matched her career high with nine assists and committed just one turnover. She has 33 assists and three turnovers in five games this month. The Penguins had 25 assists on 30 field goals as a team.
Youngstown State made 13-of-30 from 3-point range while Detroit Mercy was 2-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Jess Bicknell led the Titans with 18 points in 28 minutes off the bench.
Detroit Mercy's only lead of the game as at 5-4, and YSU scored 18 of the next 20 points to take a 22-7 lead. The margin was at least 13 the rest of the game.
Olson started the run with a driving basket and a 3-pointer, and Smolinski hit her first of three triples in the quarter to force a Titans timeout. Dunn scored to push the run to 10-0, and Smolinski hit two more 3s in the back half of the run as YSU led 22-7 with 2:36 left in the opening period.
Smolinski's fifth 3 increased the margin to 37-18 five minutes into the second period, and Trimmer's triple at the end of the shot clock with 3:32 remaining gave the Penguins their first 20-point margin at 40-19. The difference was 47-23 at halftime.
Smolinski's seventh triple made the score 56-28 at the 5:53 mark of the third period, and Dunn's basket pushed the margin to 30 for the first time on YSU's next possession. Smolinski finished 7-of-12 from beyond the arc and rested the entire fourth period. She moved into a tie for fourth place in program history with 198 career 3-pointers.
The Penguins led 67-40 at the end of the third, and Olson scored their first 11 points of the fourth. Her 3-pointer at the 8:09 mark of the quarter gave YSU its first of three 33-point leads.
YSU shot at least 50 percent from the field in three of the four quarters and finished at 52.6 percent for the game.
Youngstown State remains in the Detroit area to play at Oakland on Sunday at 3 p.m. The game against the Golden Grizzlies will be broadcast live on sportsanimal1390.com and ESPN+.