Penguins Rally to Force Overtime, Fall 71-68 at Milwaukee

McKenah Peters (Photo by Rob Hayes)
McKenah Peters (Photo by Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit to force overtime, but Milwaukee scored the final six points of the game to win 71-68 in another nail-biter between the two programs.

The Penguins fell behind 43-27 with less than 13 minutes left in the game, and they were down 50-37 entering the fourth. YSU outscored the Panthers 23-10 in the final 10 minutes of regulation, and the Penguins led 68-65 with 2:21 left after a Sarah Cash bucket.

Cash's knee brace was knocked loose on the basket, which kept her out of YSU's defensive possession. UWM's Jamie Reit scored quickly to get the Panthers within one, and neither team hit a field goal in the final 2:15 of the game. Milwaukee's final four points came from the free throw line, and the final two came with 0.2 seconds left after the Panthers forced a turnover on YSU's final possession.

Youngstown State had its five-game winning streak snapped, and its streak of eight straight Horizon League road victories also came to an end. The Penguins dropped to 12-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play as they head to league preseason favorite Green Bay on Saturday. Milwaukee, which had lost its last two games by five points total, got its first league win and improved to 6-9 overall.

This was the sixth straight contest between Youngstown State and Milwaukee that has been decided by four points or fewer.

Cash finished with a game-high 25 points, going 7-of-14 from the field and 11-of-11 from the free-throw line. McKenah Peters scored a career-high 17 points, and she hit the tying basket with 2.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Chelsea Olson had 13 points, five rebounds and four blocks.

Freshman Megan Walstad had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Jamie Reit scored 17 points to lead Milwaukee.

Youngstown State committed 17 turnovers, and Milwaukee converted them into 17 points. The Panthers also had 13 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second-chance points.

It was Milwaukee's School Day game, and the attendance of 3,089 was the fifth-largest in UWM history.

Olson and Peters combined to score nine straight points in the first period to help the Penguins build an 11-3 lead at the 5:42 mark. YSU scored just 11 points the rest of the first half.

Olson's 3-pointer at the 3:46 mark of the first made the score 14-8 Penguins, but Milwaukee went on a 12-4 run to go up 20-18 at the 4:56 mark of the second quarter. The Penguins tied the score at 20 before the Brandi Bisping hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to give UWM a 27-22 lead at the break.

The Panthers stayed hot early in the third and ended up increasing their lead to 40-24 on a Walstad basket with 5:34 remaining in the quarter. The margin was 16 again at 43-27 on a Lizzie Odegard free throw with 2:54 left.

YSU got within 10 in the final minute of the quarter when Peters scored five straight points, and UWM hit a 3 on its last possession for the second straight quarter when McKaela Schmelzer's triple made it 50-37 heading into the fourth.

The Penguins' fourth-quarter surge started immediately as they went on a 12-2 run over the first 2:23 of the period to get within 52-49. Milwaukee answered with five straight points to get back to within 57-49, but YSU buckled in on defense and kept the Panthers scoreless for almost six minutes. Cash cut the deficit within one with two free throws with 1:09 left, and Milwaukee got a big 3 from Akayla Hayes to go up 60-56 in the final minute.

Trimmer made a layup to trim the score to 60-58, and YSU elected to play defense instead of put Milwaukee at the free-throw line and got the stop it needed. The Penguins called timeout with 8.6 seconds remaining to advance the ball into the frontcourt, and Peters tied the game on a driving layup with 2.6 seconds left.

Cash made two free throws at the 4:15 mark of overtime to put YSU up 62-61, which was its first advantage since the score was 18-16 midway through the second quarter. Trimmer followed with a basket on the next possession to give YSU its first of two three-point leads in the extra session. Cash's basket at the 2:21 mark that gave YSU a 68-65 lead was the one where her brace was jarred loose, and YSU missed its final four shot attempts and had a turnover to end the game.

Reit scored to make it 68-67, and Walstad made two free throws following a defensive rebound to give Milwaukee a 69-68 lead. Ryaen Johnson got a big block of Cash with 45 seconds left, but YSU stepped up on defense and got another stop to have a chance to win. The Penguins called timeout to advance the ball to the frontcourt again with 10.9 seconds left, but Peters was stripped driving to the basket this time. Reit made two free throws with 0.2 seconds left for the final margin.

YSU was 19-for-21 from the free-throw line in the game, and Cash became the third Penguin in program history to go at least 11-for-11 in a game.

Youngstown State plays at Green Bay on Saturday in the second leg of the Wisconsin trip. Tipoff against the defending Horizon League champions and preseason favorites is set for 2 p.m. Eastern, and the game will be broadcast live on sportsanimal1390.com and ESPN+.