Penguins Win Fourth Straight, Beat UIC 81-29

Mary Dunn (Photo by David Dermer)
Mary Dunn (Photo by David Dermer)

The Youngstown State women's basketball team led by 39 at halftime and had its largest margin of victory ever in a Horizon League contest in an 81-29 victory over UIC on Thursday evening at Beeghly Center.

The Penguins improve to 11-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play heading into a big contest with IUPUI on Saturday. The Jaguars were picked to finish second in the league's preseason poll and are 2-1 in the conference. UIC dropped to 2-12 and 0-3 in league play.

Alison Smolinski made her 200th career 3-pointer at the 8:28 mark of the first period, and she went on to make five in the game and finish with 20 points in 21 minutes. Mary Dunn set new career highs with 26 points and 13 rebounds, and she was 12-for-14 from the field while playing 23 minutes. Sarah Cash had eight points in the first four minutes and finished with 10 in just eight minutes of action.

The Penguins held UIC to just 19.3 percent shooting, and the 29 points were the third-fewest allowed in a game in program history. It was the lowest point total by an opponent since Malone scored 25 on Dec. 29, 1990. UIC had 11 points at halftime, which was the second-lowest total in a half by an opponent. The 52-point margin of victory was the sixth largest in program history.

Youngstown State shot 56.3 percent over the first three quarters and finished the game at 49.2 percent. The Penguins were 11-for-32 from 3-point range, and six different players made a 3. In addition to Smolinski's five makes, Deleah Gibson had two and Amara Chikwe, Sarah Cash, Chelsea Olson and Dunn each had one. Gibson set a new career high with 12 points.

While Olson, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Week, scored three points, she had seven rebounds and seven assists. Melinda Trimmer had four assists, and she and Olson combined to have 11 assists and zero turnovers.

Jada Nneji led the Flames with eight points, and YSU held UIC leading scorer Brittany Byrd scoreless.

Cash scored on the first possession of the game, and Smolinski's 200th career 3 put the Penguins up 5-0 just over 90 seconds into the game. UIC's Kiarra Thompson hit a 3 at the 7:59 mark to make the score 5-3, and YSU went on to score 24 of the next 26 points to take a 29-5 advantage. The Penguins led 23-5 at the end of the first, 50-11 at halftime and 71-21 with two minutes left in the third. The margin reached 55 on Gibson's 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining in the fourth.

Youngstown State remains at Beeghly Center to host IUPUI on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be a Veterans Appreciation Day, and fans in attendance will receive YSU Playing Cards, courtesy of Mercy Health, Allstate/Nolfi Agency and 21 WFMJ. The game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN and ESPN3.