Fourth-Quarter Surge Sends Penguins Past Oakland 69-55

Sarah Cash (Photo by Jose Juarez)
Sarah Cash (Photo by Jose Juarez)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team outscored Oakland 30-13 in the fourth quarter to rally for a 69-55 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Athletics Center O'rena. The Penguins won for the third straight game, improved to 2-0 in Horizon League play and earned their 21st victory in the 2018 calendar year.

Chelsea Olson scored 15 points, 11 of which came in the fourth period, and grabbed a game and career-high 15 rebounds. She hit a big 3-pointer that gave the Penguins a 46-45 lead two minutes into the fourth period as part of a 13-0 run that keyed YSU's comeback.

Youngstown State improved to 10-3 overall and has now won six of its last seven contests. The Penguins swept their Motor City swing for the second straight season and improved to 2-0 in conference play for the third time in six seasons under Head Coach John Barnes. Oakland dropped to 3-10 and 0-2 in conference play.

Olson was one of three Penguins who scored double figures, and the sophomore guard became the first Penguin since Janae Jackson in 2016 to record at least 15 rebounds in a game. Olson added four assists and four steals, and she was 10-of-13 at the free-throw line. Sarah Cash tied for game-high honors with 17 points, 15 of which came in the final two quarters. Mary Dunn posted 12 points and six rebounds.

YSU got to the charity stripe a school-record 44 times, converted a season-best 29 attempts and scored its final 18 points from the line. YSU did not attempt any free throws in the first quarter, and it attempted six in the second, 11 in the third and 27 in the fourth. The Penguins connected on just 4-of-17 3-point attempts while the Golden Grizzlies went 6-for-17 from beyond the arc.

Taylor Jones led Oakland with 17 points, nine rebounds and out six assists. Autumn Kissman notched 10 points and six boards while Nikita Telesford had a team-high 11 rebounds.

The first two quarters were a physical, defensive battle as the game was tied 24-24 at halftime.

YSU led just 9-7 at the end of the first period as the teams combined to go 7-for-31 from the field, and the Penguins' advantage grew to 19-13 on Deleah Gibson's 3-pointer at the 5:24 mark. Oakland outscored the Penguins 11-5 to close the half and tie the score at 24.

Jones scored 10 points in the third quarter for Oakland, and she scored or assisted on all of the Golden Grizzlies' points over the last three minutes. Her 3-pointer at the 4:13 mark put Oakland up 41-37, and Teneea Heston's 3-pointer on Oakland's first possession of the fourth period gave the Golden Grizzlies their largest lead at 45-39. From that point, YSU did not allow another point for more than five minutes and another field goal for almost nine minutes.

Cash and Dunn scored down low on back-to-back possessions, and Olson's 3-pointer off an Alison Smolinski offensive rebound allowed the Penguins to score seven points in less than a minute and take a 46-45 lead at the 8:07 mark. That seven-point spurt was part of a larger 13-0 run as the Penguins would never relinquish the lead again. YSU outscored Oakland 23-10 after Olson's triple.

Olson's layup and free throw with 5:18 left completed the 13-0 run and it gave YSU a 52-45 lead. Oakland's Autumn Kissman made two free throws to get the Golden Grizzlies within five, and YSU caught a break when Jones was whistled for a charge after a steal just seconds later. Melinda Trimmer made a free throw, and McKenah Peters followed with two to push the lead to 55-47, and Oakland got no closer than seven.

Oakland fouled to prolong the game, but YSU made its last 10 attempts from the free-throw line and increased its lead to as much as 69-52 with 21.9 seconds left.

YSU shot just 33.3 percent from the field, but Oakland made just 29.7 percent of its attempts. Oakland made two more 3s than YSU, but the Penguins outscored the Golden Grizzlies by 18 at the free-throw line and had 30 more attempts at the charity stripe.

Youngstown State will play its first of six games at Beeghly Center in January when hosts UIC on Thursday. Tipoff against the Flames is set for 7 p.m., and it will be 80's Night for a Throwback Thursday promotion.