Penguins Battle for 74-63 Win Over Loyola Chicago

Alison Smolinski (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Alison Smolinski (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team withstood a big rally and a 46-minute delay due to a malfunctioning scoreboard to beat Loyola University Chicago 74-63 on Friday evening at Beeghly Center.

After the delayed start to the game, the Penguins built a 17-point, 41-24 lead late in the second quarter. The Ramblers cut three points off the lead before halftime then proceeded to outscore the Penguins 20-9 in the third period.

Loyola eventually took a 51-50 lead just over a minute into the fourth period, but that advantage lasted less than 20 seconds. YSU's Sarah Cash hit a basket on the Penguins' next possession to start what turned into a 12-2 run that decided the game.

Youngstown State improved to 2-0 in the young season while Loyola Chicago lost its season opener.

Cash finished with a game-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field, and McKenah Peters scored six of her 12 points during that 12-2 run in the fourth. Alison Smolinski made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, and Mary Dunn had 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Chelsea Olson had an off shooting night from the field but still finished with nine points, and she added a game-high 12 rebounds and four assists. YSU held a big 48-23 lead in rebounding and held the Ramblers to just two offensive rebounds.

YSU scored the first six points of the game, but Loyola went on a 9-2 run to take its first of three leads in the contest. Each time the Ramblers went ahead, though, the Penguins reclaimed the lead on their next possession. Smolinski hit a 3 to put YSU up 11-9, and Cash hit two free throws with 25 seconds left in the first period after Loyola had gone up 14-13.

YSU led 17-14 at the end of the first, and it scored 11 straight points in the second period to go up 28-16 with 5:24 left. A Smolinski 3-pointer at the 1:27 mark extended the lead to a game-high 17 points, and Loyola hit a 3 to make the score 41-27 at halftime.

The teams traded baskets early in the third before Loyola scored 10 straight points to get within 43-39 at the 5:55 mark of the third. The Ramblers cut the deficit to 48-47 after two Abby O'Connor free throws in the final minute, and they eventually took their 51-50 lead on a Kat Nolan basket at the 8:49 mark of the fourth. Cash's basket on the low block followed as YSU went on to go up 2-53 with 5:54 left.

Loyola Chicago trimmed the margin to four but got no closer. The Penguins were 10-for-12 from the free-throw line over the final 2:17 of the game, and they outscored the Ramblers by 14 at the free-throw line on the night.

Janae Gonzales led Loyola with 14 points, and Ellie Rice scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half. The Ramblers forced YSU into 16 turnovers and converted them into 22 points.

The Penguins will play their first road game of the season on Tuesday when the play at Pittsburgh. Tipoff against the Panthers will be at 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN and the ACC Network Extra.