Record-Breaking Performances Highlight 2018-19 Women's Basketball Season

YSU Women's Basketball (Photo by David Dermer)
YSU Women's Basketball (Photo by David Dermer)

School records for home wins and Horizon League victories and several record-breaking performances from the senior class are just a few of the memorable moments from the 2018-19 Youngstown State women's basketball season. Dressing a maximum of just nine players and moving on after the graduation of key players from last year's squad, YSU won 22 games and earned an at-large berth to the Women's NIT. Below are highlights from the campaign:

Continuing a Winning Track Record

  • YSU earned an at-large berth into the Women's NIT in 2018-19 and played in a postseason tournament for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. Dating back to the 2012-13 season, YSU has played in the WNIT three times and WBI twice.
  • The Penguins won at least 20 games for the fourth time in the last seven seasons and for the third time under Head Coach John Barnes. YSU won at least 21 games during the regular season for just the fifth time in program history, and the Penguins won at least 20 games overall for the 12th time.

Records for Home and Horizon League Wins

  • Of YSU's 22 wins in 2018-19, 16 of them came at Beeghly Center. The Penguins set a new school record with 16 wins on Rosselli Court, topping the 2012-13 squad's previous mark of 14. YSU won its final 13 straight home games, which tied the 1990-91 team for the longest home winning streak. The Penguins led by at least a dozen at one point in each of their first 16 games at home, and they were unbeaten against Horizon League opponents in Beeghly Center. The Penguins outscored conference opponents by an average of 22.9 points per game and by an average score of 76.4-53.6 at Beeghly Center this season.
  • YSU set a new school record with 13 Horizon League wins in 2018-19, and the Penguins beat every team in the conference for the first time in program history. YSU had won 11 twice previously when it went 11-5 in 2012-13 and 11-7 in 2017-18. YSU has double-digit conference wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2012-13 and 2013-14.

High Academic Standard Continues

  • Youngstown State continued its tradition of high academic success during the season. In fact, it set a new standard at YSU by having a 3.75 cumulative GPA at the end of the fall semester. That was the highest GPA of any team on record.
  • Individually, Mary Dunn was voted Google Cloud First-Team Academic All-District and Third-Team Academic All-America. She was the first YSU or Horizon League women's basketball player to earn Academic All-America honors since 2013. Sarah Cash and Melinda Trimmer were second-team Academic All-District honorees. The Penguins had just six honorees total between 1997-98 and 2017-18.
  • That same trio of Cash, Dunn and Trimmer was also named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team. It was the first time that the Penguins have had three Horizon League All-Academic Team selections in the same season, and it was just the second time that they have had multiple.

Barnes Collects Two Milestones

  • YSU head coach John Barnes picked up two of his own milestones during the season. Barnes won the 250th game of his coaching career on Jan. 5, 2019, as Youngstown State beat IUPUI 70-52 at Beeghly Center. He collected his 100th win as a Penguin when YSU won 83-59 at UIC on Feb. 10. Barnes has a career record of 260-142 and a mark of 104-87 at YSU.
  • Barnes became the fastest YSU coach to reach 100 wins, and he trails only Ed DiGregorio (320) in the all-time wins column.

Offensive Balance a Common Theme

  • Youngstown State had four players average double figures in scoring for the first time since 2002-03. Alison Smolinski led the squad with 13 points per game, and she was followed by Sarah Cash's 12.7 points per game, Mary Dunn's 12.6 and Chelsea Olson's 10.
  • YSU's balance allowed three Penguins to earn All-Horizon League honors. Dunn was voted First-Team All-Horizon League and the conference's Sixth Player of the Year, and Cash and Olson earned second-team accolades. The Penguins led the league with their three all-conference selections.
  • Four Penguins combined to be named the Horizon League Player of the Week a total of six times. Dunn and Smolinski earned the award twice apiece, and Cash and Olson both earned it once. It was the first time in program history that YSU had four different student-athletes be named conference player of the week during the same season. It was also just the third time in conference history that a league team has had four different honorees.

Among The League's Best Offenses

  • In 2018-19, YSU led the Horizon League in:
    • Free-throw percentage (.766) for the third time in program history
    • Field-goal percentage (.422) for the first time in program history
    • Assists per game (15.4) for the first time in program history
    • Assist-to-turnover ratio (1.12) for the first time in program history
    • 3-pointers per game (8.5) for the fifth straight season and the sixth time in program history
  • In Horizon League play, YSU paced the conference in scoring offense, free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, assists per game and 3-pointers per game.

Nine Straight Years with 200 3-Pointers

  • Youngstown State extended its streak of seasons making at least 200 3-pointers to nine. YSU is one of just 13 Division I teams that has made at least 200 3-pointers in each of the last nine seasons.
  • YSU made 273 3-pointers in 2018-19 for an average of 8.53 per game. That was the 24th-best mark in the country this season and the third-best clip in program history.
  • The Penguins led the Horizon League in 3-pointers per game for the fifth straight season and for the sixth time in the last eight campaigns. YSU averaged 1.1 more 3s per game than second-place Milwaukee and made 51 more 3s than the Panthers.

A Statistically Great Season

  • Statistically, YSU had one of its best seasons ever in 2018-19. Most notably, the Penguins had their best scoring defense and assist-to-turnover ratio in 40 years.
Category Value Best Since Note
Assist-Turnover Ratio 1.12 1978-79 2nd-best in YSU history; Best at Division I
FG% Defense .368 1990-91 2nd-best in YSU  history (since 1979-80)
Fewest Turnovers Per Game 13.8 2014-15 2nd-best in YSU history  
Rebounding Margin +6.0 1990-91 3rd best in YSU history (since 1979-80)
Points Per Possession 1.01 2014-15 3rd best at YSU since 1997-98
3s Per Game 8.53 2017-18 4th-best in YSU history
Free-Throw Percentage .766 2016-17 4th-best in YSU history
3-Pointers 273 2017-18 4th-best in YSU history  
Scoring Defense 57.6 1978-79 5th-best in YSU history; Best at Division I
Scoring Margin +11.3 1997-98 8th-best in YSU history
Field-Goal Percentage .422 1997-98 13th-best in YSU History

Individual Milestones

  • Alison Smolinski had a season full of broken records and milestones. She ended her career holding every program record for 3-point volume — 3s in a game (9), season (109) and career (262) as well as consecutive games with a 3 (27). She added the Horizon League single-season 3-pointers record as well, and she also reached the 1,000th-point plateau during her senior season. Her 262 career 3-pointers were the sixth most in Horizon League history.
  • Sarah Cash finished her career holding YSU career marks for games played (135) and field-goal percentage (.570). The two-time Second-Team All-Horizon League selection also finished her career ranking 11th in points, ninth in field goals made, sixth in free throws made, 13th in rebounds, fifth in blocks and 13th in games started.
  • Melinda Trimmer set a new school record for best assist-to-turnover ratio in a season with a mark of 2.23 in 2018-19. Trimmer led the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio, and she was third in the conference with 4.0 assists per game. She scored in double figures in the final nine games of her career.
  • Mary Dunn is well on her way to becoming the 22nd Penguin to score 1,000 points. She scored 402 points as a junior and will enter her senior season with 936 points. In addition to averaging a career-high 12.6 points per game, she also grabbed a career-best 5.7 rebounds per contest.
  • Chelsea Olson emerged as one of the most well-rounded players in the country. She was the only underclassman in Division I to average at least 10 points, seven rebounds and 4.5 assists, and she was one of five players to reach those averages regardless of class. Olson led the Horizon League in assists and ranked among the top eight in the conference in nine different categories.