Penguins Beat Saint Francis U 80-56 to Improve to 7-2

Sarah Cash (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Sarah Cash (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Alison Smolinski made six more 3-pointers in a 23-point effort, and Sarah Cash also had 20 points to lead the Youngstown State women's basketball team to an 80-56 win over Saint Francis U on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

Smolinski followed up her record-breaking performance of nine 3-pointers in YSU's last game by going 6-of-13 from 3-point range to help the Penguins improve to 7-2 heading into finals week. Cash's 20 points came on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. Mary Dunn added 13 points, and Melinda Trimmer had six assists and just one turnover.

The victory was the 600th in YSU's history.

Jess Kovatch had 19 points to lead the Red Flash.

YSU had a sluggish start with four missed shots and four turnovers before scoring its first basket at 5:41. The defense held SFU to six points during that early stretch before Trimmer's bucket made the score 6-2. SFU hit a 3 on its next possession to go up 9-2, but it didn't score for more than five minutes as the Penguins scored 15 straight points.

Smolinski sparked the spurt with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and Sarah Cash ended it with two free throws with 1:01 left in the period that made the score 17-9. Kovach's third 3 of the opening quarter stopped the drought for Saint Francis with 18 seconds left.

Smolinski's fourth 3 of the first 12 minutes gave YSU its first double-digit lead, and she followed it with a free throw for a four-point play that put the Penguins up 27-14 with 8:32 left. YSU's margin was double digits for all but 41 seconds the rest of the game.

The lead grew to a high of 34-19 on a Trimmer free throw with 4:39 left. SFU got within nine twice before the Penguins scored the final three points of the half to go up 40-28.

After missing its first four shots, the Penguins were 13-for-24 to conclude the half and shot 46.4 percent overall in the first 20 minutes.

Cash scored 10 points in the first seven minutes of the third period, and her basket on a pass from Trimmer gave the Penguins their first 20-point lead at 56-36 with 3:46 left. The Penguins led 64-40 at the end of the third, and the margin grew to as much as 28 in the fourth.

The Penguins were 11-for-26 from beyond the arc and shot 46.4 percent for the game. Defensively, they held the Red Flash to 32.3 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers. YSU attempted 30 free throws while SFU shot just 11.

YSU will be idle next week with finals exams taking priority. The Penguins' next contest will be at Patriot League preseason favorite Bucknell on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 11 a.m.