Penguins Storm Back in Fourth to Beat NKU 77-66

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

The Youngstown State women's basketball team outscored Northern Kentucky 31-12 in the fourth period to rally for a 77-66 victory over the Norse on Monday afternoon at Beeghly Center.

NKU blistered the nets for the first 28 minutes of the game and led 54-40 with 2:26 left in the third period. The Norse missed their last two field-goal attempts of the third period and their first 11 of the fourth, and that allowed the Penguins score 37 of the game's final 49 points.

Mary Dunn scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and she had five blocks. The Penguins posted 10 blocks as a team, their most in a game since 2009, and seven of those blocks came in the final 10-plus minutes. McKenah Peters scored a game-high 18 points, and Sarah Cash added 12 with eight rebounds and four blocks.

Youngstown State improved to 14-5 overall and 6-2 in Horizon League play while Northern Kentucky dropped to 3-14 and 2-5. The game was played 24 hours later than originally scheduled because a snow-caused leak in the Beeghly Center forced a postponement.

Kailey Coffey had 19 points, and Taylor Clos scored 16 points while making four of NKU's nine 3-pointers.

The Norse scored the five points of the game, and they started 5-of-5 from the field to build a 15-9 lead at the 5:13 mark of the opening quarter. The margin extended to 19-9 three minutes later, but YSU scored the final six points of the period to get within 19-15.

The Penguins extended their run to 13-0 in the second quarter as Dunn scored the first five points of the period and Cash followed with a basket in transition to put YSU up 22-19. NKU regrouped and took the lead back at 27-26, and they led by four three times late in the half before a Melinda Trimmer bucket at the buzzer got the Penguins within two at 37-35 at halftime.

The Norse started the second half on fire as well, making their first five attempts and six of their first seven to take a 51-37 lead on a Molly Glick 3-pointer with 6:18 left the third quarter. Ally Niece made NKU's eighth 3 of the game with 2:26 left in the third, but Chelsea Olson answered with her own triple 20 seconds later to kickstart YSU's decisive run. Peters hit a 3 two possessions later to cut the deficit to 54-46, and Dunn had a block on NKU's last shot of the quarter to preview the six blocks that would come in the fourth.

Alison Smolinski made a 3 at the 7:38 mark of the fourth that made the score 57-51, and Dunn converted back-to-back three-point plays to tie the score at 57 with 5:37 left. Dunn then had a block on the defensive end, and Cash scored on a drive with 5:05 remaining to give the Penguins their first lead of the second half at 59-57. YSU would not trail again.

Peters hit two free throws with 3:41 left to complete a 13-0 run for YSU that put it ahead 61-57, and she hit a 3 at the 1:26 mark to push the margin to 11 at 70-59. The lead grew to 13 twice in the final 40 seconds.

Youngstown State was 8-for-12 from the field in the fourth period and shot 49 percent from the field for the game. The Penguins also went 21-for-23 at the free-throw line and outscored the Norse by 12 at the charity stripe.

Northern Kentucky was 3-for-15 from the field in the fourth and finished at 41.4 percent for the contest. It made nine 3s, which was three more than its season average, on 21 attempts.

Youngstown State will continue its five-game homestand on Saturday as it hosts Cleveland State at 1 p.m. It will be the first Better With Burgan Mortgage Mania Challenge game of the season, and fans will receive a YSU ruler, courtesy of Compco Industries, HBK and 21 WFMJ.